Alberto Fernández de las Nieves

Universitat de Barcelona

Experimental Sciences & Mathematics

I was born in Granada (Spain) in 1973. I studied physics and graduated with a PhD from the University in my hometown city in the year 2000. My post-doctoral work was under the supervision of Prof. David A. Weitz in the Department of Physics and DEAS at Harvard University. I subsequently held a lecturer position at the University of Almeria and an INEST Visiting Professor position at Harvard University. In 2008, I became Assistant Professor of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology. I obtained tenure and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2014. I have performed research in soft matter, making substantial contributions to the physics of geometrically frustrated liquid crystals, surface-tension-driven instabilities and the thermodynamics of colloidal polymer gels. For my PhD work, I was awarded the prize for young researchers in experimental physics of the Spanish Royal Society of Physics and the doctoral thesis prize from the University of Granada.

Research interests

My research interests are in experimental soft condensed matter. We study a variety of classical many-body systems that have characteristic energy scales accessible at room temperature and that are internally characterized by mesoscopic length scales. As a result, these soft materials are easily deformable by external stresses and fields, or even by thermal fluctuations, and have microscopic dynamics and structural features that can be directly imaged using optical-microscopy techniques and probed using light scattering; this enables addressing many open questions in equilibrium and non-equilibrium physics. Recent research involves partially ordered fluids, colloidal crystals and glasses, and active matter. A recurring theme is the presence of defects in the order and how they sense and respond to the local geometry, the local environment and the system’s inherent activity. We are also interested in fluid mechanics and hydrodynamic instabilities.

Selected publications

– Ellis W, Nayani K, McInerney JP, Rocklin DZ, Park JO, Srinivasarao M, Matsumoto EA & Fernandez-Nieves A 2018, ‘Curvature-Induced Twist in Homeotropic Nematic Tori’, Physical Review Letters, 121, 24, 247803.

Selected research activities

Talks: (i) Invited seminar, Gregorio MiIán Barbary Institute of Fluid Dynamics, Nanoscience and Industrial Mathematics, Universidad Carlos III, Madrid (Spain), 18 Dec 2018. (ii) Colloquium, Department of Physics, University of Fribourg (Switzerland), 12 Dec 2018. (iii) Keynote talk, Parque de las Ciencias de Granada, 6 Sep 2018.

Experiments in large-scale facilities: (i) Small angle neutron scattering (SANS), 24-26 Oct 2018, Paul Sherrer Institute (Switzerland). (ii) SANS, 12-15 Nov 2018, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (USA)

Refereeing: (i) Projects: NASA (USA), Liquid crystal projects for the international space station  &  Oak Ridge National Laboratory (USA), SANS proposals. (ii) Journals: Physical Review Letters, Physical Review E, Physical Review Fluids, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Nature Physics, Nature Materials, Nature Communications, Journal of the Royal Society of Interface

Submitted proposals: (i) MINECO, Sep 2018, PI. (ii) American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Foundation, Oct 2018, PI. (iii) Junta de Andalucia, Dic 2018, Researcher