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Research Interests

A major theme in condensed matter physics is emergent phenomena wherein the collective behaviour of a system differs significantly from that of the individual constituents. An example from my own research is that of a hard rod suspended in a liquid is equally likely to point in any direction, yet in presence of many other rods it will on average point along a well defined direction. The laboratory focuses on understanding and exploiting the interplay between enthalpy and entropy to hierarchically assemble soft and dynamic materials with emergent properties. 

We use colloidal membranes as a test-bed for this endeavour where control at each stage of assembly is possible. Our highly inter-disciplinary work uses a non-pathogenic rod shaped virus, M13, as building block. The advantages of using M13 over other chemically synthesized alternatives are  its intrinsic mono-dispersity and bulk liquid crystalline behaviour. We use techniques of optical microscopy and optical tweezers to visualize and manipulate the assembled structures.