Experimental week on Soft and Living Matter

Nombre de places: 8 - Langue: english


The goal of this week is to experiment and observe at the microscopic scale the motion of constituents of soft and living materials : colloidal particles in a Maizena suspension, DNA molecules folding and unfolding in a petri dish, emulsion droplets creaming, microalgae attracted by light, bacteria running and tumbling…

The students will design and perform simple experiments which will be performed in laboratories of ENSCP, ENS, Institut Curie and ESPCI to illustrate basic concepts that control the dynamics of soft and living matter such as self-assembly, elasticity, interfaces or Brownian motion...

The week will be strongly interdisciplinary : the teams will be obtained by mixing students of different backgrounds/Masters. Each team will pick one concept that they will illustrate by three days of experiments, one in a chemistry lab, one in a physics lab and one in a biophysics lab, guided by researchers experts in these disciplines.


Evaluation is based on the quality of oral presentations made by the teams to report their experimental observations.


Monday : simple presentations of the concepts of soft matter (self assembly, Brownian motion, activated motion, surfaces interfaces and elasticity) and simple outreach demonstrations in the class room

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday : three days of experiments in three different labs (chemistry, Physics and bio-physics labs) at ESPCI, ENS, Institut Curie and ENSCP. Concepts illustrated : self assembly, interfaces and elasticity, Brownian motion, activated motion

Friday : presentations of the experimental results by the teams to all the students

In case of strong restrictions due to COVID, the Plan B the students will design and perform experiments at home using kitchen ingredients and a smartphone (maizena, gelatin, oil, soap etc) – for living matter experiments the students will analyze videos previously obtained by the


This week is open to any student with a scientific background either in physics or chemistry or biology

Equipe enseignante

Damien Baigl (ENS), Yvette Tran (ESPCI), Cecile Monteux (ESPCI), Min Hui Li (ENSCP), Joshua McGraw (ESPCI), Annie Colin (ESPCI), Eric Clément (ESPCI), José Bico (ESPCI), Rachid Thiam (ENS), Olivia DuRoure (ESPCI), Kristine Schauer (Curie), Laurent Corte (Mines/ESPCI), Raphael Jeanneret (ENS), Anais Gauthier (ESPCI)


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