Dinsmore Research Group
Soft Matter Physics
UMass Amherst

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We study the statistical mechanics of soft matter: colloids, vesicles, emulsions, nanoparticle suspensions and other squishy things. Our experiments probe the relationships among inter-particle forces, structure, and dynamics of many-bodied systems -- relationships that are central to research in condensed-matter physics.

We also apply this fundamental understanding to develop materials with controlled structure at the nanometer scale. Self-assembled materials have unique mechanical, optical and electronic properties that raise new fundamental questions and that offer applications in nanotechnology and biomedical engineering.

Click on images for details. Publications can be downloaded.

I teach a course called "An Introduction to Measurement using the Arduino," (Physics 192M), Spring 2019. Here is a brief overview of the course and a syllabus. If you are a graduate student, check out the UMass Summer School on Soft Solids and Complex Fluids.

Who we are:
  • Tony Dinsmore, PI
    (Publications and cv).
  • Ash Abraham
  • Abdoul Ayouba
  • Rui Cao
  • Zachary Curtis
  • Wei He (PhD, August 2018!)
  • Rob Keane
  • Jeremy Laprade
  • Eric Lyons
  • Arash Manafirad
  • Ian Murphy
  • Anwesha Saha
  • Oscar Said Hernandez-Daguer
  • Freeman Dong
  • Sarah Zuraw-Weston
  • We collaborate extensively with our colleagues in Physics, Chemistry, Polymer Science & Engineering, and Mechanical & Industrial Engineering.

    Group photo 7/2013 -- but Wei He and Wei Hong were away... [group 7/2013, missing Wei He and Wei Hong]
Group Alumni: Robbie Bancroft (Manchester); Austin Barnes (B.S. with iCons '14;UCSB Chemistry);Hugo Bissig (Swiss National Metrology Institute); Sean Bradley (B.S. '17, now at Mass. General Hospital); Versa Clark (M.S.'05); Kan Du (Ph.D.,'10; NIST); Kapil Easwar, Kazem Edmond (B.S.'04; now Sr. Researcher at ExxonMobil); Susan Gibilisco, Matt Gratale (B.S. 08; now Data Scientist at The Hartford); Christian Guertin (M.S.'03;Vermont Photonics);Wei He (Phd, 2018; CVS Corporate Office);Soichi Hirokawa (Bowdoin Coll.; REU 2013) now at Caltech; Wei Hong (PhD 2017, now at Facebook); Brandon Hoover (NIH post-bac program; Univ. Wisconsin-Madison Biophysics); Ryan Horton; Jaime Hutchison (Ph.D.,'13; PD at UTA; now at Solvay); Richard Kenyon;Chris Knutson (M.S.'04; Arryx); Rui Kong (M.S.'05; Suez Energy);Amanda LaFauci (B.S.'15; BC PhD program);David Lawrence (B.S.'06; NYU Law Schl); Joseph Lawrence (B.S.'15); Randy Leiter; Mark Lewis (B.S. '17; U Chicago PhD program); Nate Lindzen (B.S. in Chemistry '07); Simona Maccarrone (postdoc, '09-'11); Yutaka Maki (B.S.'05; SUNY Coll. Optometry); Ryan McGorty (B.S.'05; Harvard Physics,now at UCSF); Jessica Meese (Carnegie-Mellon); John Mergo; Melissa Motew (B.S.'02; Lincoln Lab); Spencer Newton; Debo Olaosebikan (Illinois Wesleyan U.);Liquan Pei, Xiaotao Peng (Ph.D. '07; Alliance Fiber Optics Products); Tim Prisk (B.S.'07; Indiana U.);Ellie Radue; Philip Rebrovic (B.S. May 2016 - CityYear); Sebastian Russell (B.S.'14;Columbia ChemEng);Susmitha Saripalli; Madeline Sauleda (B.S., Feb. 2016, CMU PhD program);John Savage (Ph.D. '07; postdoc at Cornell, now at Liquidia); Nesrin Senbil (Ph.D.'15; postdoc at Univ Fribourg);Sam Teale (Manchester);Ian Torres (BS Computer Sci 2018; Mass Mutual);Derek Wood (PhD '17, now R&D Scientist at Block Engineering); Chuan Zeng (Ph.D. '11; Resident Fellow, Dept of Radiation Oncology, UPenn Perelman Hospital); Jing Zhou (Ph.D. '07, Xerox)

Prof. Dinsmore's Teaching:


We gratefully acknowledge support from the following organizations:
National Science Foundation.

Army Research Office Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) Program.

ACS Petroleum Research Fund

The Materials Research Science and Engineering Center on Bioinspired Soft Materials

Xerox Corporation University Affairs Cmtee.
Department of Energy EFRC: Polymer-Based Materials for Harvesting Solar Energy

Kraft Foods, Inc.

National Aeronautics & Space Administration.

Lipid bilayer vesicles:
Effects of binding of particles, polymers or proteins; vesicle-based solid gels; active membranes with switchable permeability; pipette aspiration for mechanical measurements (Rui Cao, Zach Curtis, Arash Manafirad, Sarah Zuraw-Weston).
[Particles trigger destruction] [Vesicle-based hydrogel - closed-cell but mostly water.] [vesicle under tension via pipette]

Solid Particles at Liquid Interfaces:
Interface curvature and capillary interactions; mechanical properties of particle rafts; contact angle hysteresis;ion partitioning at fluid interfaces (Shivank Doshi, Wei He, Rob Keane)
[pushing a spherical particle through a paricle raft] [measuring capillary force and geometry]

Granular Media:
Electrostatic charge, contact forces, structure and stress (Abdoul Ayouba, Freeman Dong, Jeremy Laprade, Oscar Said Hernandez-Daguer)
[Charged sandpile] [Charged sandpile]

Novel Functional Materials via Self- Assembly:
Autonomous self-repairing materials, photovoltaics, or electronics (Anwesha Saha, Ian Murphy)
[nanoparticle membrane] binary nanoparticle film binary nanoparticle structure

Melting, Freezing, and Packing of colloids:
Packing and commensurability constraints on curved surfaces; Nucleation probed with single-particle resolution (Derek Wood, Liquan Pei, John Mergo).
[colloidal crystal] [structure of crystals on cylindrical surfaces]

Wax printing and paper-based diagnostics. (Wei Hong)

Phase separation (coacervation) in polyelectrolyte/surfactant mixtures: Self-assembled mesoscopic clusters. (Simona Maccarrone)

Random Solids - gels and compressed emulsions:
Forces, topology, and elasticity; imaging droplets.
[3D droplet pile] [3D colloidal gel] [Image of droplet resting on glass]

Former Projects:

Colloids and Optics:
Scattering and diffusion of light in randomly packed films.
[photonic cartoon] [opaque random media]

Cylindrical Fluid Structures: hydrodynamic
focusing of viscoelastic fluids.
[Fluid cylinder] [Hollow elastic cylinder]

Entropic forces near rigid
and flexible surfaces:
and particles] [entropic
force fields]

Doped semiconductor nanoparticles:
[light emission]

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This site is maintained by A. Dinsmore (dinsmore_at_physics.umass.edu).