Please note! Course description is confirmed for two academic years, which means that in general, e.g. Learning outcomes, assessment methods and key content stays unchanged. However, via course syllabus, it is possible to specify or change the course execution in each realization of the course, such as how the contact sessions are organized, assessment methods weighted or materials used.


After taking the course, the students will be able to

- Define soft condensed matter, explain how it differs from ordinary crystalline solids and isotropic liquids, give examples of typical soft matter systems and their characteristic physicochemical properties.

- Define, identify and give examples of colloidal matter; decribe typical features of colloids such as Brownian motion and Tyndall effect; describe different interparticle interactions acting between colloidal particles - especially van der Waals forces and electrostatic double layer forces

- Describe how physical properties of polymers are affected by molecular weight, crystallinity and temperature.

- Describe different experimental and theoretical methods for characterizing rheological properties of soft matter. More specifically, in the case of polymeric materials, the students will be able to explain how macroscopically observed viscoelastic behaviour is related to the molecular-scale structure and dynamics of the materials.   

- Explain the basic thermodynamic concepts related to solutions, such as free energy of mixing, osmotic pressure, and chemical potential.

- Explain the physical basis of surface tension, capillarity and wetting phenomena, and determine equilibrium states for given simple systems.

- Explain the thermodynamic and molecular-scale basis of the hydrophobic effect and molecular self-assembly, and describe the molecular-scale structural features of various self-assembled surfactant aggregates. Based on given experimental data on simple surfactant molecules, the student will be able to deduce the types of aggregates formed, and evaluate the thermodynamics (i.e., changes in free energy, enthalpy, and entropy, as well as temperature dependence) of the aggregation processes.

Credits: 5

Schedule: 08.01.2024 - 18.04.2024

Teacher in charge (valid for whole curriculum period):

Teacher in charge (applies in this implementation): Robin Ras, Jaakko Timonen, Matilda Backholm

Contact information for the course (applies in this implementation):

CEFR level (valid for whole curriculum period):

Language of instruction and studies (applies in this implementation):

Teaching language: English. Languages of study attainment: English


  • valid for whole curriculum period:

    - General features of soft condensed matter and basic soft matter systems

    - Colloids: Brownian motion, interparticle interactions

    - Polymer physics: chain conformation and glass transition, polymer self-assembly

    - Flow and deformation of soft condensed matter, viscoelastic behaviour

    - Phase transitions in soft condensed matter, theoretical models of simple solutions

    - Surface tension, wetting, capillarity, superhydrophobicity

    - Hydrophobic effect and surfactant self-assembly

Assessment Methods and Criteria
  • valid for whole curriculum period:

    Exercises, project work, exam.

  • valid for whole curriculum period:

    Contact teaching: 46 h

    Independent work: 94 h

    Exam: 3 h


Study Material
  • valid for whole curriculum period:

    Soft Condensed Matter by Richard Jones

Substitutes for Courses


Further Information
  • valid for whole curriculum period:

    Teaching Language : English

    Teaching Period : 2022-2023 Spring III - IV
    2023-2024 Spring III - IV