The class of materials known as “complex fluids” includes colloids, liquid crystals, polymer solutions, surfactants and most biological fluids. Compared with simple atomic and molecular fluids, they have very large constituents and weak inter-particle interactions, making it easy to “knock” them out of equilibrium, disturbing their delicate balance between energy and entropy, simply by shaking or shearing them. This makes them an ideal testing ground for theories of non-equilibrium thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. This talk will review some of the intriguing phenomena observed in complex fluids and explore some of the non-equilibrium physics that these fascinating materials can teach us.
Mike Evans is a lecturer in the School of Physics and Astronomy at Leeds University. Following his PhD in Manchester University’s Department of Theoretical Physics, he worked in the Soft Condensed Matter group at Edinburgh University and won a Royal Society of Edinburgh Research Fellowship to continue his research on Polydispersity there. He moved to Leeds in 2001 to take up a Royal Society Research Fellowship and subsequent lectureship. In his research on statistical mechanics and soft condensed matter, he and his research students study the statistical links between the small-scale motion of particles and the resulting large-scale behaviour of the substances that they form.