Professor Eugene Terentjev

    Biological & Soft Systems
    rm.925 Rutherford Building
    Cavendish Laboratory
    JJ Thomson Avenue
    Cambridge  CB3 0HE
    
    Tel. +44 (0)1223 337003 
    Fax. +44 (0)1223 337000 
    
    
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Research Activities

Representative research topics are listed below.
My publications are accessible on the Thomson-Reuters (Web of Knowledge) ResearcherID link -- button on the right.

A fully-funded PhD studentship is available, for an experimental physicist/enginner, to start from October 2019.
The details of this position are in this advert, where there is a link where you could apply online.
The project title is: Active polymers for renewable functional actuators, funded by the ERC Advanced grant. The idea of mechanical actuator based on intrinsic material properties of liquid-crystalline elastomers (rather than complex engineering of interacting components) has been understood for 20+ years. Yet, there is a profound difficulty (bottleneck), which remains the reason why this concept has not found its way into any practical devices & applications: LCE actuation requires alignment of the local anisotropy in the permanently crosslinked polymer network - which has been impossible to achieve in any useful large-scale configuration except the flat film, due to the unavoidable restrictions of two competing processes: orientational alignment and network crosslinking.
    Recently, we made a breakthrough, developing LCE vitrimers (polymer networks covalently crosslinked by a bond-exchange reaction). Vitrimers are much more stable than other transient elastomer networks, allow easy thermal re-moulding (making the material fully renewable), and permit moulding of complex shapes with intricate local alignment (which are impossible in traditional elastomers). This project will bridge from the concept to technology, tuning the material design for robust nematic LCE vitrimers, imparting photo-actuation capacity with a controlled wavelength, and finally utilising them in practical-engineering actuator applications where the reversible mechanical action is stimulated by light, solvent exposure, or more traditionally - heat.

A PDRA (postdoctoral researcher) position will also be available on this project, for an experienced experimental physicist/engineer, to start from October 2019. The position will be for 2 years in the first instance, and the official advert will appear probably after New Year.

With Mark Warner, we have written a monograph "Liquid Crystal Elastomers". From the book's website you could download the first Chapter, called "The Bird's Eye View", which is an overview of the new physics arising in this field; the Appendices of the paperback edition are also downloadable there.   With David Weitz we have put together a volume: The Oxford Handbook of Soft Condensed Matter (here, I am afraid, the OUP didn't let us upload a PDF).

I am involved in a number of research projects in a broad area of soft condensed matter and biological physics. The list is long, and changing all the time depending on the current fashion, unexpected discovery, external collaboration, funding, or just a chance. However, a few areas are big enough and with a sufficiently long half-life:

  • Molecular motors and sensors. This is the 'biophysics proper'. We did some work, and are still active in the theory of the ATP-fuelled rotary molecular motor (like F1 ATPase); this is in contrast to the pmf-driven rotary motors (like F0 ATPase or flagellar motor). Mechanosensing of the 2nd kind, that is, generating a response to the stiffness of cell environment (as opposed to the '1st kind' responding directly to applied force/pressure) is a very active area of our research, both in theory and experiment. Understanding the sensor and the subsequent signaling pathways is a direct route to model cell morphology and the transition to active motion, which is the longer-term aim here...

  • Liquid crystalline elastomers are crosslinked or thermoplastic rubbery networks of polymer chains that possess a spontaneous orientational order. The resulting effects are quite unique: from the thermal and photo-actuation (artificial muscles), to the soft elasticity, to the quenched random disorder and complicated dynamics - the liquid crystal elastomers have a real claim to be regarded as a new state of matter!... Our group has a long history of theoretical and experimental studies in this field and also a unique combination of capacities: the chemical synthesis facility, the advanced dynamic-mechanical and optical experimental base and, most importantly, the full synergy between theory, physical experiment and the chemistry. The big ERC grant supports this research.

  • Mechanics of cells and tissues. This area is being "revived" with the rise of Physics of Medicine (see above). We look theoretically at the mechanisms of mechano-sensitivity: how the cells and confluent tissues respond to changes in mechanical characteristics of their environment. Recent experimental projects examined how fascia and other ligamentous tissue respond to strain: to maintain homeostasis there has to be an active recovery exerting a force higher than the one originally applied - but how is not yet clear.

  • Filaments and their networks. This is a broad area, inspired by biological filaments (e.g. amyloid fibrils, actin, or microtubules - but equally carbon nanotubes), which uses our expertise in polymer physics. Here the work is mostly theoretical, in collaboration with single-molecule and cell-mechanics experiments in the BSS group. What is the kinetics of filament growth? How is the buckling compression force depends on filament structure? How to understand the ratchet nature of cell deformation from the underlying actin growth/buckling dynamics? These are the kind of questions we were working on recently.

  • Chirality and Biopolymers is an old area of my interest. Again, combining the theory and experiment (dynamic-mechanical and optical), we are trying to establish the effects of molecular chirality and stereo-specific interactions (on the level of primary/secondary structure) on the macroscopic response of polymers and their networks or aggregates structures.

  • My other interests in physics of polymers and liquid crystals mainly lie in topological defects, kinetic theory, fluid dynamics of l.c. colloids or filled l.c. polymers, as well as various issues of phase ordering, interactions, kinetics of mixtures and emulsions with a symmetry-broken component. Experimentally, we are studying the rheology of complex fluid systems, in particular, the response during phase transformations when new structures and internal constraints emerge in the system.

    Several possible PhD projects are available at any given time, in all of the above research areas and in all three directions (theory, experiment and chemical synthesis), for the start in October (check the Cavendish rules for PhD application, but contact me first for preliminary discussions). Remember, the PhD applications need to be submitted no later than December-January (or earlier, if funding is not clear).

    Part III Minor Option - Advanced Statistical Mechanics

    Part II - Soft Condensed Matter (ended 2017)

    Part II - Thermal and Statistical Physics (ended 2012)

    Part II - Theoretical Physics (TP1) (ended 2007)

    Part III Minor Option - Polymers and Colloids (ended 2005)

    Former students and postdocs

    Links to some relevant Cavendish pages

    Just in case you are wondering - we still live at 18 Hurrell Road, Cambridge CB4 3RH
    This is now a site of Arbury Osteopathic Clinic, run by Helen