Nanoparticle Assemblies: A New Form of Matter with Classical Structure and Quantum Function


Mar 27, 2023 – May 19, 2023


UC Santa Barbara, Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics


Coordinators: Michael Engel, Laura Na Liu, Monica Olvera, Eran Rabani, and Alex Travesset

Materials whose elementary building blocks are nanoparticles with dimensions between a few and hundred nanometers, such as nanocrystals and colloids, instead of atoms or molecules, provide a new form of matter, with many properties, both in structure and function, that are not achievable with traditional materials. This raises a number of new fundamental questions such as:

  • What is the minimal physical description at the nanoscale?
  • How to discover new assemblies?
  • What are the effects or properties for these new materials and the characterization of equilibrium and metastability?

The program will bring together scientists from diverse communities: physicists, chemists and material scientists in an effort to address the emerging fundamental questions and long-term prospects of this young field. It will develop collaborative efforts in the areas of programmable assembly, structure prediction, inverse methods, electronic properties and new functional materials, with the goal of becoming a reference for the exciting future ahead.

GEOMPACK – Geometry and Packing in Material Structure & Biology (Satellite meeting of the Newton Institute)


14th August 2023 to 10th September 2023


Aberystwyth University (U.K.)


Coordinators: Adil Mughal, Simon Cox and Tudur Davies


The problem of how densely solid objects can pack in space has been a source of fascination since the dawn of civilization. The dense packing of objects is intimately related to the arrangement of molecules in condensed states of matter and to the best way to transmit encoded messages over a noisy channel. Considerable progress has been made with the dense ordered packing of hard spheres, notably Hales’ proof of the famous Kepler conjecture. Similarly, the random packing of hard spheres now occupies a canonical position in granular physics with deep connections to jamming, thermodynamics and the glass transition. However, over the last two decades the field of packing problems has broadened considerably to encompass the packing of anisotropic particles (e.g. ellipsoids and polyhedra) and the packing of soft “squishy” particles. This has been driven in part by the rise of soft condensed matter physics – which is ever producing new building blocks (to play) or pack with – as well as advances in computer hardware/software enabling the ready simulation of anisotropic particles This workshop will take a broad view of recent advances within the context of the previous work on hard spheres. Particular questions that will be addressed include: what can proofs of hard sphere packings tell us about constructing proofs of the densest packings of anisotropic particles? Can packings of soft objects be given a rigorous mathematical definition? What do packing problems tell us about morphogenesis in biological systems – to which there are many similarities.

2022 MRS Fall Meeting Symposium SB05 “Emergent Order and Mesoscale Structure Formation in Soft Condensed Matter”


November 27 – December 2 2022


Boston, MA, USA


We would like to draw your attention to the 2022 MRS Fall Meeting Symposium SB05 “Emergent Order and Mesoscale Structure Formation in Soft Condensed Matter”, to which we hope you will consider submitting your and your students’ and colleagues’ contributions (abstracts are due by June 16th). 

The conference will take place in Boston, MA, USA on November 27 – December 2, and our symposium will cover topics including structure formation in a variety of mesoscopic systems, advances in their analysis, and in our understanding of the kinetic and thermodynamic principles that govern the formation of order. The symposium moreover focuses on recent progress in particle design, phase transitions, and emergent functional properties.

Best wishes,

Julia Dshemuchadse Cornell University (

Chrisy Xiyu Du Harvard University (

Lucio Isa ETH Zürich (

Nicolas Vogel Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (