Department of Applied Physics

Soft Matter and Wetting

Soft Matter and Wetting is a research group situated in the Aalto University Department of Applied Physics.
Spherical water droplets on a superhydrophobic surface partially submerged in water. The surface is gray copper colour, while the submerged part is silvery due to thin airfilm captured by the surface.

FACILITIES: Soft Matter and Wetting group

List of our research equipment and facilities.

Water droplet suspended on a micropillar surface

CODES: Soft Matter and Wetting group

Program codes published as part of our works.

Oscillating Droplet Tribometer. The most accurate characterization of your superhydrophobic surface.

Wetting characterization services offered by Soft Matter and Wetting group.

A ferrofluid droplet sitting on a measurement surface in the oscillating droplet tribometer measurement scheme. The magnet underneath the surface is also seen.
Photo of scanning droplet adhesion microscope's measurement probe above a butterfly wing

Droplet Instruments has launched. We offer advanced technologies, service and scientific consulting for your surface characterization needs.

Prof. Robin Ras, the head of Soft Matter and Wetting research group. Photo by Mikko Raskinen
Professor Robin Ras, the head of Soft Matter and Wetting research group. Photo by Mikko Raskinen

Robin Ras, Associate Professor

Research group

Soft Matter and Wetting (SMW) is a multidisciplinary research group consisting of physicists and chemists. We are interested in functional soft materials and the wettability of surfaces. Many of the materials we work on are inspired by nature, such as extremely water-repellent biological surfaces that provide the basis for synthetic superhydrophobicity.

ERC Consolidator grant / ERC Proof-of-Concept grant

The leader of the SMW group, Professor Robin Ras, has received a Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council (ERC). The topic of this five-year project is "Superslippery Liquid-Repellent Surfaces".


Research highlight

We developed a new concept for durable superhydrophobic surfaces by structuring surfaces at two different length scales. The microstructure is an interconnected surface frame that protects highly water-repellent and mechanically fragile nanostructures. Water repellency of the resulting superhydrophobic surfaces is preserved even after abrasion by sandpaper and by a sharp steel blade. 

Wang D., Sun Q., Hokkanen M.J., Zhang C., Lin F.-Y., Liu Q., Zhu S.-P., Zhou T., Chang Q., He B., Zhou Q., Chen L., Wang Z., Ras R.H.A., Deng X.  
Design of Robust Superhydrophobic Surfaces 
Nature 582, 55–59 (2020) (link) (PDF view only) (press release)

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What's new in Soft Matter and Wetting?

Microscopic image of giant gas vesicles.
Press releases, Research & Art Published:

Coating bubbles with protein results in a highly stable contrast agent for medical use

Researchers developed bubbles that are safe, highly stable, and function as contrast agent in medical applications. They could be used to diagnose, for example, cardiological issues, blood flow, and liver lesions.
Professor Matilda Backholm facing the camera
Appointments, University Published:

Professor Matilda Backholm: Between the micro and the macro

Driven by curiosity, new Department of Applied Physics professor Matilda Backholm studies the physics of the mesoscale.
Heikki Nurmi outdoors on a sunny day in a black shirt in front of a background of leaves and trees.
Research & Art Published:

A way to measure droplets on hydrophilic surfaces wins Innovation Prize at Department of Applied Physics

Doctoral candidate Heikki Nurmi is awarded the Innovation Prize of the Department of Applied Physics for his invention that makes easier the measuring of droplets on hydrophilic surfaces. The invention paves the way for improved application of paints, coatings, and growth medium for bacteria on surfaces that are extremely prone to wetting.
Cooperation, Research & Art Published:

School of Science researchers now involved in five Centres of Excellence

SCI researchers are partners in three new Centres of Excellence: Life-Inspired Hybrid Materials, Randomness and structures, and Virtual laboratory for molecular level atmospheric transformations.
Logos of the funding bodies of the SMW group (EU & the European Research Council, Academy of Finland and Business Finland)
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