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42nd IFF Spring School

Macromolecular Systems in Soft- and Living-Matter

14-25 February 2011 . Jülich . Germany



The spring school intends to give an introduction and an overview of current research topics of macromolecular systems in soft matter and cellular biology. Macromolecules such as synthetic polymers, polyelectrolytes, amphiphiles and colloids are the key building blocks of many modern materials. The understanding of their structural and dynamical properties is challenging due to the large number of relevant degrees of freedom, the weak interactions between the components which imply an important role of thermal fluctuations, and the large structural length scales in the range of nanometers to micrometers. Macromolecules such as DNA, proteins and lipids are the key building blocks of living systems. In addition to the complexity of synthetic systems, the enormous variety of different molecules and their very specific interactions poses a whole lot of new challenges, which range from the understanding of the tertiary (spatial) structure of proteins from their amino-acid sequence to the complex interplay of many components in the cell. Therefore, many aspects of macromolecules and composite systems are important for soft and living matter alike.

The goal of this spring school is not only to teach soft matter and biophysics to students and postdocs in physics, chemistry and biology, but also to establish the interdisciplinary connection between these fields. This includes, in particular, to introduce biologists and chemists to physical experimental methods and theoretical modelling, and to introduce physicists to the large variety of fascinating biological phenomena.

Introductory lectures will present the basics of soft matter science and biophysics. These lectures are intended to establish a common level of basic interdisciplinary knowledge. Subsequent lectures will then treat more advanced topics within both disciplines and emphasize interdisciplinary aspects. In addition, experimental and computer simulation techniques will be introduced and explained, and examples of applications will be given.



The topics of the lectures cover:


  • Structure and Dynamics of Macromolecules
  • Selfassembly and Aggregation
  • Cells and Viruses
  • Techniques and Methods