Welcome to Softbites!

Softbites brings you digestible summaries of the latest research in soft matter.

If you have a soft spot for the science of bubbles, liquid crystals and other squishy materials you might have heard of soft matter! If you have not, this branch of physics is a fascinating interdisciplinary field studying various kinds of materials from gels to biological systems. They all share the fact that they are soft, which means they are not exactly solid nor liquid. For instance, if you poke a bit of foam, it will resist like a solid at short times, but it will flow at longer times.

Read our posts to find out more about soft matter!

Recent posts

Check out our latest posts!

We write about colloids, gels, biomechanics and many other squishy subjects! We are inspired by the most recent papers and the classics as well.

Synthetic blood to power vascularized robots

The circulatory or vascular system of animals is a complex organ that performs multiple functions simultaneously. Take the human circulatory system for example: it transports oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, regulates temperature, helps in fighting diseases, etc. However, robots don’t usually function the same way. Despite the vast improvements in robot design, they still cannot do much multi-tasking. Part of the problem is that robots are typically built from rigid parts that only do one thing. A battery usually does not play any other role aside from providing energy, and moving parts are typically controlled by independent actuators. These single-purpose components (such as batteries) are typically less efficient than their biologic counterparts, and add to the weight of the robots (limiting their performance, maneuverability, speed, and autonomy).

Soft engines: Leidenfrost effect in elastic solids

Have you ever wondered why a water droplet rolls around on a hot pan instead of evaporating instantly? The part of the droplet touching the pan does indeed evaporate. The resulting vapor forms a thin insulating layer that enables the drop to hover over the pan for seconds, even minutes. This is known as the Leidenfrost effect. Because they also produce vapor when heated, sublimable solids (solids that skip over the liquid phase and directly produce vapor) also exhibit the Leidenfrost effect. This effect has been studied extensively for both liquids and sublimable solids.

The Future of Shape-Memory Polymers: Just Add Water and Glycerol

Have you ever used a heat-shrink tubing at home to seal an exposed wire? As it’s shown in Video 1, you would place the tubing around your wire, apply heat, and voilà! The tubing shrinks and tightly wraps itself onto the exposed wire, and you don’t have to worry about an electric shock anymore. This type of material that changes its shape upon increased temperature is called a shape-memory polymer. Since its commercial development in 1962, scientists have found this type of material so useful that its popularity rose, especially in the biomedical and aerospace fields. However, it comes with a few drawbacks: applying the desired temperature uniformly can be tricky and the shape change induced by the heat can be quite slow. In addition, changing the temperature isn’t ideal for biological applications where the environment surrounding the material is sensitive to heat, such as in tissues and living cells. In today’s post, I’ll introduce you to a different type of shape-memory material that “remembers” its temporary shape when subjected to a magnetic field, instead of heat.

Who are we?

Softbites is run by a group of young scientists who want to attract a wider audience to the beautiful world of soft matter.

We are Ph.D. students and postdocs from all over the world. Writing for Softbites is a way of sharing our passion for soft matter. We would especially love to attract younger students to research by explaining fascinating research papers, which are often technical and intimidating for people outside the field.

Meet the Softbites team!

Annie Stephenson
Harvard University
Cambridge

Managing editor
Read Annie’s posts
Author since: 9/2017


Danny Seara
Yale University
New Haven

Style manager
Read Danny’s posts
Author since: 2/2018

Arthur Michaut
Harvard Medical School
Boston

Founder & Webmaster
Read Arthur’s posts
Author since: 9/2017


Foteini Delisavva
Charles University
Prague

Publicity manager
Read Foteini’s posts
Author since: 1/2018

Colm Kelleher
Harvard University
Cambridge

Managing editor
Read Colm’s posts
Author since: 9/2017


Rob Campbell
OIST
Onna-son

Style manager
Read Rob’s posts
Author since: 3/2018

and we don’t forget our former team members!

Meet the authors!

Our official Softbites authors regularly write for us. If you are specifically interested in one of their posts, feel free to get in touch with them to ask more questions.

Adam Fortais
McMaster University
Hamilton

Read Adam’s posts
Author since: 5/2018


Youngah (Karen) Kwon
Columbia University
New York

Read Karen’s posts
Author since: 12/2018

Emily Riley
DTU
Copenhagen

Read Emily’s posts
Author since: 3/2018


Olga Shishkov
Georgia Tech
Atlanta

Read Olga’s posts
Author since: 1/2018


We also have contributions from guest authors.


 Where are we from?

Softbites is a world-wide collaboration!


How do we work?

Softbites is a peer-reviewed science communication blog. Each of our posts is managed by an editor who sends it to a team of reviewers (a content reviewer and a style reviewer). Our goal is to make sure the original article has been faithfully presented. We also want to provide our authors and reviewers with a science publishing experience. We are happy to share with you our style guide, if you want to dig more into our writing organization!

Become a writer

If you want to become a Softbites writer, or you just want to get in touch with us, please reach out!

 

 

Our friends

We are proud to be part of the bites family.

The eldest is Astrobites which has been writing about astrophysics since 2010. The concept has been extended to other fields of science through sister websites listed below. Have a look if you’re interested!

astrobites

chembites

evobites

geoscibites

oceanbites

envirobites_logo.jpg

Thanks to The Lutetium Project!

Most of the beautiful pictures and videos illustrating this website have been kindly provided by our friends from the Lutetium Project. They run a YouTube channel featuring the connections between art and soft matter. You MUST check them out! Especially this video, which most of the footages illustrating this website have been extracted from.