Two trespassing graffiti artists, two immortality-obsessed scientists, and one furious sea-god.
Soft matter or soft condensed matter is a subfield of condensed matter comprising a variety of physical systems that are deformed or structurally altered by thermal or mechanical stress of the magnitude of thermal fluctuations. They include liquids, colloids, polymers, foams, gels, granular materials, liquid crystals, and a number of biological materials. These materials share an important common feature in that predominant physical behaviors occur at an energy scale comparable with room temperature thermal energy. At these temperatures, quantum aspects are generally unimportant. Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, who has been called the “founding father of soft matter,” received the Nobel Prize in physics in 1991 for discovering that methods developed for studying order phenomena in simple systems can be generalized to the more complex cases found in soft matter, in particular, to the behaviors of liquid crystals and polymers.[2
Interesting behaviors arise from soft matter in ways that cannot be predicted, or are difficult to predict, directly from its atomic or molecular constituents. Materials termed soft matter exhibit this property due to a shared propensity of these materials to self-organize into mesoscopic physical structures. By way of contrast, in hard condensed matter physics it is often possible to predict the overall behavior of a material because the molecules are organized into a crystalline lattice with no changes in the pattern at any mesoscopic scale.
One defining characteristic of soft matter is the mesoscopic scale of physical structures. The structures are much larger than the microscopic scale (the arrangement of atoms and molecules), and yet are much smaller than the macroscopic (overall) scale of the material. The properties and interactions of these mesoscopic structures may determine the macroscopic behavior of the material.
Original title Soft Matter