University of Bristol
My research activity spans several topics in the area of Soft Matter Physics, which
is the part of Condensed Matter Physics that studies physical systems that are
easily deformed by external fields. Typical examples of Soft Matter systems
include colloidal suspensions, polymers, foams, amphiphilic molecules and
biological materials. The large number of degrees of freedom, together with
energy scales that are comparable to the thermal energy, allow Soft Matter systems
to be understood in terms of simple statistical mechanics models.
With the aid of computer simulations, I investigate both the equilibrium
and non-equilibrium properties of these models, tackling a vast array of
problems, of both fundamental and practical importance.
Among the equilibrium phenomena, I'm interested in the phase behaviour of
new generation materials, which incorporate directional interactions and a small
coordination number. An example are Patchy Particles, which are colloidal particles
whose surface is decorated with attractive patches; acting like mesoscopic molecules,
these new materials have led to the discovery of novel phase behaviour and are
now being used as building blocks for more complex self-assembled structures.
Among the non-equilibrium phenomena, my research is focused on arrested states,
like glasses and gels, and on crystallization phenomena. One of my current goals is to
determine the general conditions that favour crystallization over vitrification, and vice-versa.
Finally I'm interested in complex fluids, and water in particular. The small coordination
of water molecules, its fluid anomalies, and the complex phase behaviour, including
polymorphism, polyamorphism and supercooled mysteries, make water the perfect subject
for Soft Matter investigations.