Forces, Growth and Form in Soft Condensed Matter: At the Interface between Physics and Biology


The book reviews the current experimental and theoretical knowledge of the synergism between modern physics, soft condensed matter and biology, presenting a thorough discussion of the relative role of the various fundamental interactions in such systems: electrostatic, hydrophobic, steric, conformational, van der Waals, etc. These competing interactions influence the form and topology of soft and biological matter, like polymers and proteins, leading to hierarchical structures in self-assembling systems and folding patterns sometimes described in terms of chirality, braids and knots. Finally, the competing interactions influence various bioprocesses like genetic regulation and biological evolution taking place in systems like biopolymers, macromolecules and cell membranes. The authors include theoretical physicists, soft condensed matter experimentalists, biological physicists, and molecular biologists - all leaders in their respective fields. Aside from the need to gain new, fundamental insights, the subject area is also of great importance for many applications, in that self-assembly and hierarchical assembly are important features to achieve functionality on multiple length scales. Applications range from the nanoscopic (e.g., biomolecular material and copolymeric mesophases) to the microscopic (all organic microelectronics) to the macroscopic (high-performance structural composites).

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