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Polymer Surface & Interface Group

Soft Matter and Biological Physics at Surfaces

Department of Physics, University of Guelph

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We study soft matter and biological physics at surfaces. Soft and biological systems are very sensitive to their environment such that small changes in temperature and pH, as well as the application of external fields, can produce large changes in their properties. This sensitivity can be exploited to tune the properties of the systems and to achieve a deep understanding of the subtle interplay between different interactions. This research also leads naturally to the discovery of new and unique biomaterials, which can be exploited in new technological applications.

We apply a broad range of surface-sensitive experimental techniques and fundamental, physics-based strategies to develop simple models of complex soft matter systems such as polymers, proteins and bacterial cells at surfaces. We focus our approach on questions such as:

  • What are the effects of the curvature of an interface and changes in the environment on the conformation of surface-bound proteins?

  • What is the effectiveness and mechanism of action of novel antimicrobial compounds?

  • How do bacteria stick to and move across surfaces?

  • How do enzymes break down cellulose so that cellulosic ethanol can be made more efficiently?

  • What are the structure and mechanical properties of naturally occurring, nanostructured biomaterials?

The answers to these questions lead to improvements in understanding as well as new applications and technologies.

This website highlights our research projects, facilities and equipment, research opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, and research collaborations with industry. If you have any questions or would like to receive additional information, please feel free to contact Professor John Dutcher.


PSI Research Profile and Opportunities


M.Sc. and Ph.D. Opportunities in Experimental Biological Physics

Postdoctoral Opportunities in Experimental Biological Physics


Check out research opportunities in the PSI Group!

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