Levich Institute Seminar Announcement, 04/08/2014
Tuesday, 04/08/2014
2:00 PM
Steinman Hall, Room #312
(Chemical Engineering Conference Room)

Professor Peter Olmsted
Georgetown University
Department of Physics

"The Physics of Stratum Corneum Lipid Membranes "


The skin is a remarkable organism. The outer 40-100 microns constitute a protective layer, the Stratum Corneum, which is a composite material of keratin bodies (10-100 microns) embedded in a matrix of lipid bilayers. These bilayers are very different from the fluid phospholipid bilayers familiar from the plasma membrane that surrounds living cells, or that constitute organelles such as the Golgi Apparatus and Endoplasmic Reticulum. I will discuss the physical properties of these fascinating materials which we have studied using extensive Molecular Dynamics simulations, and indicate how special features such as asymmetric lipids and extensive hydrogen bonding give are essential for humidity control, flexibility, and biological function of skin, and help make skin the remarkable self-healing material that it is.

Physical Review Letters 111 (2013) 141801
Soft Matter 5 (2009) 4549-4555
Biophysical Journal 97 (2009) 1941-1951


  • [2014-] Ives Professor of Physics, Department of Physics, Georgetown University.
  • [2005-2013] Professor of Physics, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leeds.
  • [2001-2005] Reader in Complex Fluids, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leeds.
  • [2001] Lecturer, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leeds.
  • [1996-2001] University Research Fellow, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leeds.
  • [1995-1996] Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Department of Physics, University of Michigan.
  • [1993-1995] Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Theory of Condensed Matter Group, Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge.
  • [1991-1993] Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Exxon Research and Engineering Company, Annandale, NJ.
  • [1986-1991] Ph.D., Department of Physics, University of Illinois @ Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL. Thesis: The effect of shear flow on the isotropic-nematic transition in liquid crystals. Advisor: Professor Paul Goldbart.
  • [1984-1986] Process Control and Test Engineer, M/A-COM Advanced Semiconductor Operation (GaAs), Lowell, MA.
  • [1984] A.B. (Physics), Cornell University.


Dynamics of soft matter in flow: instabilities, shear banding (wormlike micelles, entangled polymers, etc); lipid bilayers; protein mechanics.

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