Self-assembly in soft matter and biosystems

Bad Honnef Physics School

Su, 25.09.2016 18:00  –   Fr, 30.09.2016 14:00
Regine von Klitzing (TU Berlin) and Ulrich Schwarz (Heidelberg)
Physikzentrum Bad Honnef
Hauptstr. 5, 53604 Bad Honnef, Germany

Event partner:
Wilhelm and Else Heraeus - Foundation
Contact person:
Victor Gomer,


Bad Honnef Physics School on

Self-assembly in soft matter and biosystems

supported by the Wilhelm and Else Heraeus - Foundation
25 - 30 September, 2016, Physikzentrum Bad Honnef, Germany

Organized by
Regine von Klitzing (TU Berlin) and Ulrich Schwarz (Heidelberg)


Scientifc aim
Imaging a factory in which complex machines are assembled by mixing them in a container and waiting for them to find their appropriate positions simply by thermal motion. Although not possible on a macroscopic scale due to prohibitively long time scales, nature uses this strategy on the nanometer scale when assembling its molecular machines. Maybe the most famous example is the assembly of viral capsids, which often can be reconstituted in the test tube. Another biologically highly relevant case is the cytoskeleton, a polymer network inside cells that also can be reconstituted in the test tube. Because the proof of principle exists in nature, soft matter physics has always aimed at exploiting self-assembly to build new and superior materials. Polymers, colloids and membranes have been functionalized to form supramolecular structures of all sorts. Often soft matter approaches are implemented with biomolecules, e.g. when using DNA to build arbitrarily shaped objects designed in the computer (DNA-origami). In order to control the kinetics and structure of self-assembly, more and more sophisticated tools are being developed. On the theoretical side, this mainly involves computer simulations, which not only can predict the final product for a given interaction, but sometimes also the optimal design or even process for a desired target structure. On the experimental side, selfassembly is designed not only by local binding rules, but also by using timedependent protocols and external fields, such as electromagnetic or hydrodynamic forces. Most importantly, self-assembly can often be controled by surfaces, e.g. when colloidal particles interact at membrane- or polymer-coated surfaces.

Organisation of the school
In this school, we will bring together leading scientists both from experiment and theory to introduce a broad audience of physics students to both the fundamentals and to recent advances in this interdisciplinary field. Talks will run from Sunday evening to Friday noon. Wednesday afternoon will be used for a social activity (hiking or museum). We will ask selected speakers to use a morning lecture to give a broad introduction to a specific field, e.g. patchy particles, DNA-origami or virus assembly. Depending on feedback from participants, we also might consider offering a tutorial on computer simulations. Participants already being involved in research can present their work in short contributed talks and during a poster session (please, submit poster abstract until August 30).

List of confirmed speakers
• Anne Bernheim-Groswasser (Beer-Sheva)
• Markus Biesalski (Darmstadt)
• Laurent Blanchoin (Grenoble)
• Martien Cohen-Stuart (Wageningen)
• Andreas Fery (Dresden)
• Gerhard Findenegg (Berlin)
• Gerhard Gompper (Jülich)
• Michael Hagan (Boston)
• Sarah Köster (Göttingen)
• Jörg Lahann (Karlsruhe & Ann Arbor)
• Tim Liedl (Munich)
• Christos Likos (Vienna)
• Ard Louis (Oxford)
• Laura Na Liu (Stuttgart & Heidelberg)
• Vinothan Manoharan (Harvard)
• Helmuth Möhwald (Potsdam)
• Julian Oberdisse (Montpellier)
• Sebastian Seiffert (Mainz)
• Orlin Velev (Raleigh)
• Tanja Weil (Ulm)
• Mitch Winnik (Toronto)