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Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge



  • Co-founder and co-director of the Edwards Centre for Soft Matter
  • 2012 Reader in Experimental Soft Matter Physics, Optoelectronics group of the Cavendish Laboratory.
  • 2008 appointed Lecturer in the Physics Dept. (Biological and Soft Systems (BSS) group. 
  • 2000 – 2008 Assistant Prof. (Universitair Docent) at the University of Amsterdam, Nl. Working on self-assembling (bio)polymers and DNA-functionalized colloids.
  • May 2000 PDRA at beam line ID01, European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) Grenoble, Fr.
  • 1999 PDRA with Prof. G. Porte (Dept. Phys.: Univ. Montpellier II, Fr), working on SAXS-analysis and rheology of polymeric micellar crystals.
  • 1997 PhD at the Weizmann Institute, Rehovot, IL, in the group of Prof. Jacob Klein on ‘Study of normal and shear interactions between polymer-bearing surfaces’.
  • June 1992 received Diplom (Masters of Science) in physics on ‘Interdiffusion in polymer films’ from the Univ. Konstanz, under the daily supervision of Prof. Jacob Klein at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel and supervised by Prof. G. Schatz at Univ. Konstanz.
  • 1986 – 1991 Undergraduate study in physics in the Physics Dept. of the Univ. Konstanz, Germany.
  • June 1986 received German Baccalaureate from Zeppelin-Gewerbeschule (Technical Gymnasium), Konstanz, Germany. 


  • My group focuses on Soft Matter Physics - in particular self-assembly of colloidal systems with new optical, electrical and mechanical properties.
  • The systems we presently work with are DNA-driven nano and micron-sized particles, colloidal suspensions and DNA-hydrogels.
  • We have developed tools to functionalise gold-nanoparticles, silica, silicon, magnetic, fluorinated and other polymeric colloids, droplets, as well as fd-viruses with DNA.
  • We investigate the structural, mechanical and optical properties of these systems with various microscopy and video-analysis methods.
  • Recently we also started working on thermophoresis (experiments, theory & simulations)

Present PhD projects:

* Building porous colloidal nano-structures for battery materials (with Prof. C. Grey, Chemistry).

* Developing ‘transparent’ colloidal gels to study transport through porous materials.

* 2D behaviour of colloids at liquid-liquid interfaces.

* Study of the liquid crystalline behaviour of clays in aqueous dispersions (disk-like nano-particles)

* Developing complex colloidal structures with photonic properties (Dr. S. Vignolini & Prof. O. Scherman, Chemistry).

* DNA-hydrogels for molecular sensing (with Prof. D. Frenkel)

* DNA functionalization and assembly of quantum dots - plasmon-transport  (with Prof. R. Friend, Physics))

* Thermophoresis - colloidal transport in a temperature gradient performing experiments, theory and simulations (Prof. Frenkel, Chemistry).


Experiments & Simulations:

* My group does both experiments and simulations

* Having established 2 high end microscopes, one equipped with optical tweezers, we study our systems structural and dynamic properties with video-microscopy.

* We have developed new algorithms to study in-situ micro-rheology (dynamics) as function of various parameters, e.g. temperature and magnetic fields.

* Further we have established image analysis tools such as Differential Dynamic Microscopy (DDM), Chord and Structure-Factor Analysis, amongst others.

* We interact with various groups on simulating our experimental systems, extending them to a wide parameter range and measuring properties that are experimentally inaccessible.

* Numerical studies of colloidal systems.


Key publications: 

Z. Xing, C. Ness, D. Frenkel, E. Eiser “Structural and Linear Elastic Properties of DNA Hydrogels by Coarse-Grained Simulation” Macromolecules52, 504-512 (2019)

Y. Lan, A. Caciagli, G. Guidetti, Z. Yu, J. Liu, V. E. Johansen, M. Kamp, C. Abell, S. Vignolini, O. A. Scherman & E. Eiser “Unprecedented stability of ‘raspberry’ colloids”, Nature Communications, DOI : 10.1038/s41467-018-05560-3 NCOMMS-18-04675-T.  (2018)*

Z. Xing, A.Caciagli, T. Cao, I. Stoev, M. Zupkauskas, T. O'Neill, T. Wenzel, R. Lamboll, D. Liu, E. Eiser “Microrheology of DNA-Hydrogels” PNAS DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1722206115 (2018) 

J. Burelbach, D. Brückner, D. Frenkel, E. Eiser “Thermophoretic Forces on a Mesoscopic Scale” Soft Matter DOI: 10.1039/C8SM01132J (2018) 

P. Xu, Z. Xing, Y. Lan & E. Eiser ‘Liquid crystalline behaviour of self-assembled Laponite/PLL-PEG nanocomposites’ Soft Matter 14, DOI: 10.1039/c7sm01613a (2018) 

J. Burrelbach, D. Frenkel, I. Pagonabarraga & E. Eiser ‘A Unified Description of Colloidal Thermophoresis’, Eur. Phys. J. E 41: 7, DOI 10.1140/epje/i2018-11610-3 (2018)

D. Joshi, D. Bargteil, A. Caciagli, J. Burelbach, Z. Xing, A. S. Nunes, D. E. P. Pinto, N. A. M. Araujo,  J. Bruijc, E. Eiser ‘Kinetic control of the coverage of oil droplets by DNA-functionalised colloids’, Science Advances,2: e1600881 (2016)

L. Di Michele, F. Varrato, J. Kotar, S.H. Nathan, G. Foffi, E. Eiser, ‘Multistep kinetic self-assembly of DNA-coated colloids’, Nature Communications, 4:2007, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3007 (2013)

A. Kumachev, J. Greener, E. Tumarkin, E. Eiser, and E. Kumacheva, “High throughput generation of hydrogel beads with varying elasticity enabling cell differentiation” BioMaterials,  32, 1477 (2011)

N. Geerts, E. Eiser, “DNA-functionalized Colloids: Physical Properties and Applications” Soft Matter,6, 4647 (2010)

S. Jabbari-Farouji, D. Mizuno, M. Atakhorrami, F. C. MacKintosh, C. F. Schmidt, E. Eiser, G. H. Wegdam and Daniel Bonn; “ Non-equilibrium fluctuation-dissipation theorem in an aging colloidal glass” Phys. Rev. Lett.,98, 108302 (2007)

N. L. Sitnikova, R. Sprik, G. Wegdam, and E. Eiser "Spontaneously Formed trans-Anethol/Water/Alcohol Emulsions: Mechanism of Formation and Stability" Langmuir22, 7083 (2005) 

E. Eiser, F. Molino, G. Porte and O. Diat, “Nonhomogeneous textures and banded shear flow in a soft cubic phase under shear” , Phys. Rev. E61, 6759 – 5pp (2000)

U. Steiner, J. Klein, E. Eiser, A. Budkowski and L .J. Fetters, “Complete wetting from polymer mixtures”, Science 258, 1126 (1992)

Head of Group
Professor in Experimental Soft Matter Physics
Prof Erika  Eiser


Person keywords: 
Hybrid Nanomaterials,