1. Handbook
  2. Subjects
  3. Soft Matter Engineering

Soft Matter Engineering (BMEN90012)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

You’re viewing the 2019 Handbook:
Or view archived Handbooks


Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codeBMEN90012
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date


Introduction to soft condensed matter: a range of applications and products including foods, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, ceramics, suspensions, minerals and detergents. The course covers the fundamental structure-function and material properties of these complex systems.


The colloidal domain: brownian motion and the Stokes-Einstein equation. Suspension viscosity.
Interparticle forces: dispersion forces, electrostatic forces (Poisson-Boltzmann), double layer theory and solvation forces. The role of surface forces in colloidal stability. Electrokinetic characterization of nano-particles and the relationship to colloidal stability and suspension rheology. Suspension rheology, measurement, viscoelasticity and the colloidal state. Polymer physics. Polymers as random walks, ideal and real chains scaling concepts and the size of the random walk. Entropy and Elasticity, the Hookean spring. Viscoelastic behaviour of polymer solutions and melts. Gels, sols and gelation including the concept of percolation. The theory of rubber elasticity. Adsorption of polymers to surfaces. Surfactants and self assembly. Micelles, vesicles and hexagonal phases. Aggregation numbers and packing parameters. Lipid bilayers. A review of several papers in biotechnology and nanotechnology.

Intended learning outcomes


On completion of this subject the student is expected to:

  1. Describe and analyse the flow behaviour of particulate materials and the influence of surface chemistry, additives and processing history on the behaviour of fine solid and liquid particle slurries
  2. Apply the physical concepts to product formulation with required material attributes
  3. Apply the physical concepts to processes in the minerals, ceramics, pigment, food and pharmaceuticals industries
  4. Apply these concepts to the manufacture and characteristics of soft materials.

Generic skills

  • Ability to apply fundamental science and engineering knowledge
  • Capacity for independent thought
  • Ability to analyse and solve open-ended problems
  • Ability to comprehend complex concepts and communicate lucidly this understanding
  • Awareness of advanced technologies in the discipline
  • Ability to work in a team (practical work component)
  • Ability to write a technical report
  • Demonstrated ability to review the literature.

Last updated: 3 April 2019