Modeling Soft Matter: Linking Multiple Length and Time Scales
Coordinators: Paul Atzberger, Kurt Kremer, Mark Robbins
Given recent advances in available experimental and theoretical approaches as well as emerging scientific and technological applications, the frontiers of soft condensed matter continue to advance and expand. Focus areas include polymeric materials, liquid crystals, food products, organic electronics, and bio-molecular systems, to name a few. A characteristic feature is the relatively weak interactions between the microstructure components, with strength comparable to the thermal energy. This can result in rather subtle energy-entropy balances that produce "softness" in the mechanics and "slowness" in the kinetics. These challenges are compounded by a wide range of spatial and temporal scales that are coupled in many soft systems, making it difficult to capture processes at all of the relevant scales in a unified model. There has been great interest and activity in the development of multiscale methods to address this challenge. These methods attempt to bridge scales by coupling descriptions with different spatial and temporal resolutions. In many cases, the qualitative physical descriptions must also vary with scale, ranging from quantum mechanical treatment of electrons or protons at atomic scales, to motion of discrete atoms, molecules or groups of molecules at intermediate scales, to mesoscopic or continuum treatments at larger scales. The conference will highlight the latest advances in these techniques and their interconnections, as well as the experimental challenges.