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Research Fellows Directory

Michael Cates

Professor Michael Cates FRS

Research Fellow


University of Cambridge

Research summary

Soft materials include colloids, polymers, emulsions, foams, surfactant solutions, powders, and liquid crystals. Domestic examples are (respectively) paint, engine oil, mayonnaise, shaving cream, shampoo, talk and the slimy mess that appears when a bar of soap is left in contact with a water. High tech examples of each type are used in drug delivery, health foods, environmental cleanup, electronic displays, and in many other sectors of the economy. Soft materials also include the lubricant that stops our joints scraping together, blood, mucus, and the internal skeleton that controls the mechanics of individual cells.

My work involves theoretical and large scale computer simulation studies of these materials. My goal is to advance our scientific understanding of the generic, as well as the specific, connections between how a material is made and what its final properties are. As soft materials become more complex and sophisticated, they will increasingly involve microstructured and composite architectures created from components that may be living, synthetic, or a combination of the two. Understanding properly the interactions between these components should one day allow us to create new materials by intentional design, rather than simply trying out various ideas and hoping that one of them works.

Grants awarded

Scheme: Royal Society Research Professorship

Dates: Sep 2017 - Aug 2022

Value: £820,482

Scheme: Royal Society Research Professorship

Dates: Sep 2012 - Aug 2017

Value: £804,082.08

Scheme: Royal Society Research Professorship

Dates: Sep 2007 - Aug 2012

Value: £865,379

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