Alberto Fernández-Nieves

Alberto Fernández-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

– Pearce DJG, Ellis PW, Fernandez-Nieves A & Giomi L 2019, ‘Geometrical Control of Active Turbulence in Curved Topographies’, Physical Review Letters, 122, 16, 168002.

– Guerrero J, Chang Y-W, Fragkopoulos AA & Fernandez-Nieves A 2019, ‘Capillary-Based Microfluidics-Coflow, Flow-Focusing, Electro-Coflow, Drops, Jets, and Instabilities’, Small, 1904344.

– Dimitriyev MS, Chang Y-W, Goldbart PM & Fernandez-Nieves A 2019, ‘Swelling thermodynamics and phase transitions of polymer gels‘, Nano Futures 3, 042001.

Selected research activities

Invited talks at conferences/workshops:

  • 81st New England Complex Fluids Workshop, Harvard University.
  • DIEP workshop on “hydrodynamics at all length scales: from high energy to hard and soft matter”, Leiden (The Netherlands).
  • Thermodynamics 2019 Conference (Huelva, Spain).
  • 10th International Conference Engineering of Chemical Complexity (Potsdam, Germany).
  • XXVI Sitges Conference on Statistical Mechanics: “New Trends in Statistical Physics” (Sitges, Spain).
  • Micro and Nanofluidics: from Technology to Science, (Benasque, Spain). (vii) German Physical Society, University of Regensburg (Germany)

Invited colloquia/seminars:

  • Universidad Carlos III de Madrid,
  • Universidad Complutense de Madrid,
  • Universidad de Tarragona,
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory (USA),
  • Aachen University (Germany),
  • UMASS at Amherst (USA),
  • Exxon Mobile (USA)

Thesis advised: Michael Tennenbaum, Georgia Tech

Thesis committees:  John Nicosia, Georgia Tech; Josep Maria Pages Casas, U Barcelona

Conferences organized: MRS Fall Meeting – Symposium on Droplets, Bubbles and Emulsions (Boston, USA)

Panel review of neutron scattering proposals, Oak Ridge National Lab (USA)

Refereeing: Phys Rev Lett, Phys Rev E, Phys Rev X, Phys Rev Fluids, Phys Rev Applied, Proc Nat Acad Sci, Nature, Nature Materials, Nature Comm, J Fluid Mech, Soft Matter

Grants: MINECO, 147.015€ (PI);  La Caixa, 118.500€ (PI); MINECO – FECYT, 12.000€ (participant).