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Soft Materials

Research in the Soft Matter group is focused primarily on experimental studies of dynamics, structure and morphology in soft materials, including polymers and polymer nanocomposites, glass-forming systems and ionic liquids, and biological macromolecules. We are developing fundamental understanding of physical and chemical phenomena in Soft Matter and applying this knowledge to design of novel materials and technologies for different applications from energy related to bio-medical fields.

Research in our group focuses on six major areas.

  • Fundamentals of the Glass Transition and Polymer Dynamics, with the focus on the role of chemical structure and interactions, temperature and density in macroscopic properties of the materials
  • Structure and Properties in Multicomponent Polymeric Materials (Nanocomposites and Block Copolymers) where research focus on the interfacial layer, its structure, dynamics and the role in macroscopic properties
  • Mechanism of Ion and Proton Conductivity in ionic liquids and polymers, with the focus on fundamentals of the ion and proton transport, and development of superionic polymers for Electrical Energy Storage application
  • Molecular Transport through Polymer Membranes for various chemical separation technologies, with the focus on gas purification and CO2 separation
  • Polymers for 3D-printing Technologies, with the focus on developing of polymers and processes that provide sufficient mechanical strength for 3D-printed products
  • Dynamics of Biological Macromolecules with the focus on fundamental understanding of the role of chemical structure and interactions in activity and stability of proteins.

As an experimental group, we work in tight collaboration with theory and computer simulations groups.

The majority of our funding is provided by the Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences.


ORNL/UT Governor's Chair, Professor of Chemistry and Physics, Chemical Sciences Division
Alexei P Sokolov