ChBE Seminar Series: Ashton Cary Lecture - Sharon Glotzer

Wed Mar 28 3:00 pm
College of Computing (Room 016)

Unless otherwise noted, all seminars are held on Wednesdays in the College of Computing Building (Room 016) at 3 p.m. Refreshments are served at 2:30 p.m. outside Room 016.

The annual Ashton Cary Lecture was established in 1984 as a memorial to Ashton Hall Cary, a 1943 chemical engineering graduate of Georgia Tech Cary served in the U.S. Army after graduation and later built a career in Georgia’s textile industry.

2018 Speaker: Sharon Glotzer, University of Michigan

Lecture 1: "Engineering the Entropic Bond"


Entropy, information, and order are important concepts in many fields, relevant for materials to machines, for biology to econophysics. Entropy is typically associated with disorder; yet, the counterintuitive notion that a thermodynamic system of hard particles might - due solely to entropy - spontaneously assemble from a fluid phase into an ordered crystal was first predicted in the mid-20th century. First predicted for rods, and then spheres, the ordering of colloids by entropy maximization upon crowding is now well established. In recent years, surprising discoveries of ordered entropic colloidal crystals of extraordinary structural complexity have been predicted by computer simulation and observed in the laboratory. These findings, which we present in this talk, demonstrate that entropy alone can produce order and complexity beyond that previously imagined, and that, in situations where other interactions are also present, the role of entropy in producing order may be underestimated. We quantify shape entropy in the self-assembly of colloidal systems, from nanoparticles to proteins, discuss the notion of the entropic bond in the context of traditional chemical bonds, and show how the entropic bond may be precisely engineered despite its statistical, emergent nature.

Lecture 2: "Engineering Matter via Inverse Design" (11 a.m.-Noon, March 29, Ford ES&T L1125)

From the Stone Age to the Information (Silicon) Age, the materials available to humankind define the world in which we live. The materials of tomorrow will be rich in information content, be programmable, and be responsive to stimuli, just as biological matter is, and they will be designed and engineered on demand, where and when they are needed, with precision and personalization. Theory, modeling and simulation play a critical role in the inverse design of nanoparticle and colloidal materials in particular by enabling the selection – from a nearly infinite number of possibilities – of building blocks optimized for structure and properties. In this talk, we present a new thermodynamic approach to the inverse design of colloidal matter we call Digital Alchemy, and demonstrate its use in obtaining colloidal crystals with arbitrary complexity, engineered phase transitions, and target photonic properties.


Sharon C. Glotzer is the Anthony C. Lembke Department Chair of Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Glotzer is also the John Werner Cahn Distinguished University Professor of Engineering and the Stuart W. Churchill Collegiate Professor of Chemical Engineering, and Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Physics, Applied Physics, and Macromolecular Science and Engineering. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the Materials Research Society, and the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Professor Glotzer’s research on computational assembly science and engineering aims toward predictive materials design of colloidal and soft matter, and is sponsored by the NSF, DOE, DOD, Simons Foundation and Toyota Research Institute. Among other notable findings, Glotzer invented the idea of “patchy particles,” a conceptual approach to nanoparticle design. She showed that entropy can assemble shapes into many structures, which has implications for materials science, thermodynamics, mathematics, and nanotechnology. Glotzer has published over 225 refereed papers and presented over 340 plenary, keynote and invited talks around the world. She has served on boards and advisory committees of the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the National Academies, and is currently a member of the Scientific Policy Committee at the Stanford Linear Accelerator (SLAC) National Accelerator Laboratory and the National Academies Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology. She is a Simons Investigator, a former National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellow, and the recipient of numerous other awards and honors, including the 2016 Alpha Chi Sigma Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the 2014 MRS Medal from the Materials Research Society and the 2008 Charles M.A. Stine Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.


College of Computing (Room 016)
(404) 894-1838