Research

One of the most fundamental question connecting physics with chemistry and biology is how complex behavior “emerges” from the interactions of many simple entities. Our research follows two thrusts: structure formation in and out of equilibrium and the dynamic arrest of dense crowded systems:

Self-organization and collective dynamics
A current challenge is to extend statistical physics to elucidate the emergence of complex dynamic behavior in driven dissipative systems, and to look for common principles in systems ranging from birds and fish to suspensions of bacteria to synthetic colloidal swimmers.
Dynamic arrest: Interplay of dynamics and structure
The dramatic dynamic slowdown of supercooled liquids and dense suspensions is still an open problem. We investigate how and to which extent structural motifs can account for the slow dynamics.

On a more fundamental level, we develop numerical methods and the theoretical underpinning of emergence in driven systems:

Kinetics of phase transitions
Understanding phase transitions is one of the central tasks of statistical physics. We study both how phase transitions are modified by external flow and transitions that are without an equilibrium counterpart.
Coarse-graining
Coarse-graining is a crucial step to make many models accessible to computations over the required length and time scales. Our goal is to develop a versatile method to systematically obtain coarse-grained models from driven atomistic simulation data.
st-smallStochastic thermodynamics
Driving a system away from equilibrium requires work and leads to the dissipation of heat. We study how stochastic thermodynamics can help to explain phenomena in driven interacting many-body systems.