Statistical Thermodynamics of Surfaces, Interfaces, and Membranes


Samuel Safran

First Edition • January 8, 2003 • 284 pages


Print ISBN: 9780813340791 • $68.00 USD$56.50 CAN

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Understanding the structural and thermodynamic properties of surfaces, interfaces, and membranes is important for both fundamental and practical reasons. Important applications include coatings, dispersants, encapsulating agents, and biological materials. Soft materials, important in the development of new materials and the basis of many biological systems, cannot be designed using trial and error methods due to the multiplicity of components and parameters. While these systems can sometimes be analyzed in terms of microscopic mixtures, it is often conceptually simpler to regard them as dispersions and to focus on the properties of the internal interfaces found in these systems. The basic physics centers on the properties of quasi-two-dimensional systems embedded in the three-dimensional world, thus exhibiting phenomena that do not exist in bulk materials. This approach is the basis behind the theoretical presentation of Statistical Thermodynamics of Surfaces, Interfaces, and Membranes. The approach adapted allows one to treat the rich diversity of phenomena investigated in the field of soft matter physics (including both colloid/interface science as well as the materials and macromolecular aspects of biological physics) such as interfacial tension, the roughening transition, wetting, interactions between surfaces, membrane elasticity, and self-assembly. Presented as a set of lecture notes, this book is aimed at physicists, physical chemists, biological physicists, chemical engineers, and materials scientists who are interested in the statistical mechanics that underlie the macroscopic, thermodynamic properties of surfaces, interfaces, and membranes. This paperback edition contains all the material published in the original hard-cover edition as well as additional clarifications and explanations.


Samuel A. Safran has been a professor in the department of Materials and Interfaces at Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel, since 1990 and is the first incumbent of the Steinfeld Professorial Chair. He was appointed Vice President of the Weizmann Institute in 2001 after serving as Dean of its Feinberg Graduate School for six years. He has been a senior staff physicist in the Complex Fluid Physics group at Exxon Research and Engineering, Annandale, New Jersey. His research applies the theoretical concepts of condensed matter physics to the understanding of soft matter including the structure, phase behavior, and dynamics of interfaces, membranes, and self-assembly. Specific topics include phase behavior and structure of colloidal, self-assembling and biomaterials, surface phase transitions, wetting dynamics, and the mechanics/thermodynamics of cells and membranes. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, on the editorial board of Langmuir, and an editor of several volumes on the physics of complex fluids.

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