Soft matter physics

Soft matter research at the University of Leeds

Our research is primarily experimental with an equal focus on fundamental and applied aspects. We are interested in a wide range of different soft matter materials including liquid crystals, liquid crystal devices, polymers and biopolymers, glasses, composites, complex fluids, gels and networks and colloids.

Real-world impact

We have developed a cost-effective process for manufacturing lightweight, high-impact resistant polymer composites, which has been commercialised over a wide range of applications including luggage and anti-ballistic body armour.

Samsonite's use of Curv® composite is a revolution in the industry, providing the world traveller with the best in performance, and the Curv® self-reinforced PP composite, which is a direct result of the hot compaction technology as applied to polypropylene developed at the University of Leeds, has become a very profitable business venture for Propex Fabrics.

Links with industry

Professors HF Gleeson and JC Jones are founders of the spin-out company Dynamic Vision Systems Ltd., which makes switchable contact lenses. Together with Dr M Nagaraj, they have numerous industrial links, including a large project with Merck chemicals on Non-Display Applications of liquid crystals, as well as with Ultravision, QioptiQ, and Displaydata (a company previously founded by Professor Jones).

Professor Cliff Jones is an EPSRC Advanced Fellow in Manufacturing. Dr ME Ries is a Royal Society Industry Fellow. The group is involved in a range of ongoing industrial collaborations many of which include PhD students or postdocs partially or fully funded by industry.


We have a wide range of facilities, providing evaluation, characterisation and testing capabilities as well as meeting workshop and scale-up requirements. Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) including temperature modulation, Mechanical testing (Fracture, creep, modulus Impact testing), Gas-barrier, Optical microscopy (Image analysis, polarising and UV), Electro-optic and device addressing analysis, Rheology (Strain - and stress-controlled shear rheology), X-ray scattering (SAXS/WAXS), Dynamic Mechanical Testing (Tension and torsion), Broadband Dielectric Relaxation Spectroscopy, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (400MHz solid state, Imaging, diffusion and rheology), 3D Photon correlation spectroscopy and Raman microscopy. Our laboratories include a clean-room prototyping laboratory used for glass cell processing for use with liquid crystal based and other soft-matter devices.

Further information

Visit our soft matter physics research group website.

PhD projects

We have opportunities for prospective PhD students. Potential projects can be found in our postgraduate research opportunities directory.