A pair of tetrahedra align facets in a dense suspension of model, hard colloids.

Greg van Anders' Group

We are a research group in the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy at Queen's University. We work on Emergence, Systems Physics, Soft Condensed Matter, Materials Physics, and Statistical Mechanics.

Group News

Group News

Here is some recent news from our group.

A news archive can be found at this link.

2022/05/01

Welcome Kaleb!

Kaleb Huneau is joining the group for summer 2022 as an NSERC USRA student. Welcome!

2022/05/01

Congratulations Rosy!

Former PhD student (with Sharon Glotzer) Rose Cersonsky has accepted a faculty position at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Congratulations!

2022/05/01

Congratulations Chrisy!

Former PhD student (with Sharon Glotzer) Chrisy Du has accepted a faculty position at the University of Hawaii. Congratulations!

2022/05/01

Congratulations Erin!

Former PhD student (with Sharon Glotzer) Erin Teich has accepted a faculty position at Wellesley College. Congratulations!

2022/04/13

Congratulations Elizabeth!

Elizabeth Schnekenberger completed her engineering physics thesis. Congratulations!

2022/04/13

Congratulations Gareth!

Gareth Bellinger completed his engineering physics thesis. Congratulations!

2022/04/13

Congratulations Madison!

Madison Reed completed her honours thesis. Congratulations!

2022/04/13

Congratulations Maeve!

Maeve Beckett completed her honours thesis. Congratulations!

2022/04/13

Congratulations Monique!

Monique Rivard completed her engineering physics thesis. Congratulations!

2021/12/01

Congratulations Pheely!

Pheerawich Chitnelawong successfully defended his MSc Thesis. Congratulations! Pheely is continuing in the group to do his PhD.

2021/09/21

Welcome Monique!

Monique Rivard is joining the group for 2021-2022 for her undergraduate engineering physics thesis. Welcome!

2021/09/21

Welcome Elizabeth!

Elizabeth Schnekenburger is joining the group for 2021-2022 for her undergraduate engineering physics thesis. Welcome!

2021/09/21

Welcome Gareth!

Gareth Bellinger is joining the group for 2021-2022 for his undergraduate engineering physics thesis. Welcome!

2021/09/01

Welcome Madison!

Madison Reed is joining the group for 2021-2022 for her undergraduate physics thesis. Welcome!

2021/09/01

Welcome Maeve!

Maeve Beckett is joining the group for 2021-2022 for her undergraduate physics thesis. Welcome!

Research

We focus on understanding, predicting, and controlling emergent behavior in classical systems, often involving colloids.

We use a variety of analytic and numerical approaches.

A complete list of publications can be found on this Google Scholar page. Here is a sample of some recent work.

Hierarchical assembly of pre-assembled building blocks.

Pre-Assembly

Engineering hierarchically-structured materials requires breaking natural hierarchies. We show how to do that with pre-assembled building blocks.

Check out our paper in Science Advances.

Patterns of avoidance, adjacency, and association.

Avoidance, Adjacency, Association

Characteristic arrangement patterns determine 'prime real estate' in distributed systems design. But how can patterns be identified?

Check out our paper in J. Phys. Complexity.

Two-factor robustness comparison of design architectures.

Robust Design

How do we know if a distributed system design is robust? We show system architectures can be classified by materials-inspired metrics.

Check out our paper in Scientific Reports.

Chart of criteria for the emergence of entropy-driven local organization.

Entropic Local Order

Entropy often leads to disorder, but in some circumstances it can promote organization. We determine what those circumstances are.

Check out our paper in Soft Matter.

Forward design starts from a basic building block, determines the structure it forms, and then determines the structure's properties. Inverse design starts from the target properties and determines the buildig block.

Inverse Property Design

If we want a material to exhibit a target property, what building blocks do we use to get it? We demonstrate how to do this reverse-engineering in colloidal materials.

Check out our paper in Molecular Physics.

Entropic analogues of chemical bonding arise from distinct free energy basins, each of which corresponds to a preferred structural motif for a pair of anisotropic particles.

Bonding Without Electrons

To understand chemistry, we think in terms of bonds. But what does a bond require? Does bonding require atoms, electrons, and quantum mechanics?

Check out our paper in PNAS.

A structure that is entropically stabilized by anisotropic particles with cuboid shape, with potential of mean force and torque isosurfaces indicating preferred relative positions of particles within the structure.

Engineering Entropy

Entropy is now something we can rationally engineer to make materials organize. How?

Check out our paper in Science Advances.

Schematic illustration of structural reconfiguration that drives band gap switch

Bandgap Switching

Is it possible to design a colloidal material that has a switchablephotonic band gap? We use simulation to show that compressing self-assembled truncated tetrahedra alters structure in a way to shift the band gap.

Check out our paper in Phys. Rev. Mater..

Schematic illustration of embedding a functional network in a ship hull.

Systems Physics

In designing, e.g., electrical, mechanical, or thermodynamic systems, engineers rely on principles that come from centuries of basic physics investigation. But what are the basic physics principles that guide how to integrate different systems together?

Check out our paper in New J. Phys..

Anisotropic particles in a BCC structure.

Packing and Structure

When does matter pack? We find that that for systems of colloids, even when they are found in dense packing structures, they didn't get there by packing.

Check out our paper in PNAS.

A colloidal crystal undergoing a solid–solid transition.

Solid–Solid Transitions

Solid–solid transitions are ubiquitous in nature and technology, but we still have a lot to learn about them. How can we learn more, and what kind of minimal models can we construct to do so?

Check out our paper in PNAS.

Clusters of Platonic solids packed densely in spheres.

Packing in Confinement

How do symmetric, anisotropic objects pack in a spherical container? This simple question is surprisingly difficult to answer, but it has implications for a wide range of physical systems.

Check out our paper in PNAS.

Truncated tetrahedra in a diamond structure.

Digital Alchemy

Nanoparticle synthesis yields particles that play the role of atoms in nanomaterials, but have properties that can be controlled in ways atoms can't. What does that freedom mean for materials design, and how do we leverage it?

Check out our paper in ACS Nano.

A pair of tetrahedra align facets due to directional entropic forces in a dense suspension of model, hard colloids.

Shape Entropy

Entropy, especially in the context of anisotropic particle shape, can drive the formation of complex structural order. How does does it do that?

Check out our paper in PNAS.

Shape modification of colloidal particles gives them 'entropic patches' that promote specific alignment.

Entropically Patchy Particles

Nanoparticle synthesis inherently yields anisotropically shaped particles. How can we control shape to produce desired bulk behavior?

Check out our paper in ACS Nano.

Press

Here is a selection of non-technical or semi-technical accounts of our work.

Phys.org logo

Packing vs. Assembly

Our work on when matter packs was described at Phys.org.

Phys.org logo

Solid–Solid Transitions

Our work on shape driven solid–solid transitions was described at Phys.org.

Phys.org logo

Confined Packing

Our work on packing in confinement was described at Phys.org.

ACS Nano 'In Nano'

Digital Alchemy

Our work on Digital Alchemy was described in ACS Nano's In Nano.

Nature Materials logo

The Force of Shape

Our work on shape entropy was described in Nature Materials.

Phys.org logo

Beyond Geometry

Our work on shape entropy was described at Phys.org.

Phys.org logo

Pre-Assembly

Our work on pre-assembly for hierarchical materials was described at Phys.org.

People

The wonderful people in our group.

Contact: gva@queensu.ca