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Fellows Directory

Michael Cates

Professor Michael Cates FRS


Elected: 2007


Michael Cates investigates the physics of soft condensed matter — a wide range of substances that include surfactants such as shampoo, emulsions like mayonnaise, and foams such as shaving cream. Michael is interested in how these materials flow — known as the science of rheology — and uses theory from statistical mechanics to predict and describe their flow behaviour.

Amongst many achievements, he created a model to explain the flow of viscoelastic surfactant solutions, which display both viscous and elastic characteristics when they are subjected to force. His work has also offered new insight into the physics of jamming — a process by which materials including glasses and foams become rigid as their density increases.

More recently, Michael has applied his expertise to understanding biological soft matter, including the flow of living colloids such as bacteria and the fluid that lubricates joints. He has received a number of awards for his exceptional research, including the 2013 Weissenberg Award of the European Society of Rheology.

Interests and expertise

Subject groups


Biophysics theory, complex fluids, Rheology, soft matter, statistical physics