Peter Olmsted

Joseph Semmes Ives Chair in Physics

Peter D. Olmsted

Director of the Institute for Soft Matter Synthesis and Metrology

Mail: 506 Reiss Science Building
Office: 404 Regents Hall
Telephone: +1 (202) 687-9141
Personal Research PageGoogle Scholar
List of all Publications, publications (preprints) on ArXiv

Peter Olmsted received an AB in Physics from Cornell (1984); and a PhD in Physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1991), where he studied the theory of liquid crystal hydrodynamics and non-equilibrium phase transitions. Following post-docs at Exxon, Cambridge, and the University of Michigan, where he worked on a variety of soft matter physics topics (membrane, polymers, biophysics, liquid crystals and liquid crystalline elastomers), he moved to Leeds in 1996 for a University Research Fellowship. He became Professor in 2005, and led the Soft Matter Physics group in Leeds from 2008-2013. In 2014 he moved to Georgetown University in Washington DC, as Joseph Semmes Ives Chair in Physics, where he joined the new Institute for Soft Matter Synthesis and Metrology (ISM2). He is currently the Director of the Institute.

Olmsted is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics (UK), and a Fellow of the American Physical Society (Division of Polymer Physics), and he was awarded the British Society of Rheology Annual Award in 2008. His research achievements include models for polymer crystallization at rest and under flow, explanations for shear banding in complex fluids such as polymer and surfactants, and an experimental-computational collaboration that revealed how mechanical force unfolds proteins. While in the UK he was in several European Union networks on Soft Matter, and led the EU Integrated Training Network DYNACOP (Dynamics of Architecturally Complex Fluids) from 2008-2012.  He is the Secretary/Treasurer of the APS Topical Group on Soft Matter (GSOFT).

Current Research

Olmsted's current research is mainly theory and computer simulation, and includes rheology, dynamics and instabilities in soft matter, polymers, lipid membranes, and proteins. Common threads in his work are phase transitions, non-equilibrium phenomena, and fluctuations. He works closely with experimentalists, and often on industrially-motivated problems. 

His current research group has three post-docs (polymer glasses, shear banding, and polymer physics of additive manufacturing) and one PhD student (associating biopolymer gels such as silk fibroin). 

Selected Publications

  1. "Deformation of an Amorphous Polymer during the Fused-Filament-Fabrication Method for Additive Manufacturing, Claire McIlroy and P.D. Olmsted,   Journal of Rheology 61 (2017) 379-397).
  2. "Roles of inter-leaflet coupling and hydrophobic mismatch in lipid membrane phase-separation kinetics", P.W. Fowler, J. J. Williamson, M. S. P. Sansom, and P. D. Olmsted,  Journal of the American Chemical Society 138 (2016) 11633-11642.
  3. "The Physics of Stratum Corneum Lipid Bilayers", C. Das and P. D. Olmsted,  Philosophical Transactions A 374 (2016) 20150126.
  4. "Comment on “Elastic Membrane Deformations Govern Interleaflet Coupling of Lipid-Ordered Domains”, J.J. Williamson and P. D. Olmsted, Physical Review Letters 116 (2016) 079801.
  5. "Kinetics of symmetry and asymmetry in a phase-separating bilayer membrane", J. J. Williamson and P. D. Olmsted, Physical Review E 92 (2015) 052721
  6. "Perspectives on the viscoelasticity and flow behavior of entangled linear and branched polymers", F. Snijkers, R. Pasquino, P. D. Olmsted, D. Vlassopoulos, Journal of Physics Condensed Matter, 27 (2015) 473002 (Topical Review).
  7. "Nucleation of registered domains in the coupled leaflets of a bilayer", J. J. Williamson and P. D. Olmsted,  Soft Matter 11 (2015) 8948-8959
  8. "Dynamics of an asymmetric bilayer lipid membrane in a viscous solvent", R.J. Bingham, S.W. Smye and P.D. Olmsted,  Europhysics Letters 111 (2015) 18004 (Editor's Choice and Featured Article, 2015).
  9. "Registered and antiregistered phase separation of mixed amphiphilic bilayers", J. J. Williamson and P. D. Olmsted, Biophysical Journal 108 (2015) 1963-1976 [Cover article].
  10.  "Amyloid fibril bending and ring formation at liquid interfaces", Sophia Jordens, Emily E. Riley, Ivan Usov, Lucio Isa, Peter D. Olmsted, and Raffaele Mezzenga, ACS Nano 8 (2014) 11071-11079.
  11. "Fast cholesterol flip-flop and lack of swelling in skin lipid multilayers", Chinmay Das, Massimo Noro, and Peter D. Olmsted, Soft Matter 10 (2014) 7346.
  12. "Comment on 'New Experiments for Improved Theoretical Description of Nonlinear Rheology of Entangled Polymers'", Richard S. Graham, Ewan P. Henry, and Peter D. Olmsted, Macromolecules 46 (2013) 9849-9854.
  13. "Actin Polymerization on Supported Cationic Lipid Membranes", George Heath, Benjamin Johnson, Peter D Olmsted, Simon Connell, and Stephen D. Evans, Biophysical Journal 105 (2013) 2355-2365.
  14. "Lamellar and inverse micellar structures of skin lipids: Effect of templating", Chinmay Das, Peter D. Olmsted, and Massimo Noro, Physical Review Letters 111 (2013) 141801.
  15. “Apparent Fracture in Polymer Fluids under Step Shear”, O.S. Agimelen and P. D. Olmsted, Physical Review Letters 110 (2013) 204503.
  16. “Free energy landscapes of proteins: insights from mechanical probes”, Zu Thur Yew, Peter D. Olmsted, and Emanuele Paci, Advances in Chemical Physics “Single-Molecule Biophysics: Experiment and Theory”, 146 (2012) 395-417
  17. “Critical Point Fluctuations in Supported Lipid Membranes”, Simon D. Connell, G. Heath, Peter D. Olmsted, and Anastasis Kisil, Faraday Discussions 161 (2013) 91-111. 
  18. “Transient shear banding in entangled polymers: a study using the Rolie-Poly model”, J. M. Adams, S. M. Fielding, and P. D. Olmsted, Journal of Rheology 55 (2011) 1007-1032
  19. “Concentrating membrane proteins using asymmetric traps and AC fields”, M. R. Cheetham, J. P. Bramble, D. G. G. McMillan, L. Krzeminski, X Han, B. R. G. Johnson, R. J. Bushby, P. D. Olmsted, L. J. C. Jeuken, S. J. Marritt, J. N. Butt, and S. D. Evans, Journal of the American Chemical Society 133 (2011) 6521-6424
  20. “Nano-scale mechanical probing of supported lipid bilayers with atomic force microscopy”, K. Sheik, C. Das, P. D. Olmsted, and S. D. Connell, Physical Review E 82 (2010) 041920
  21. “Statistical mechanics far from equilibrium: prediction and test for a sheared system”, R. M. L Evans, R. A. Simha, A Baule, and P. D. Olmsted, Physical Review E 81 (2010) 051109.
  22. “Influence of boundary conditions and confinement on nonlocal effects in flows of wormlike micellar systems” C. Masselon, A. Colin, and P. D. Olmsted, Physical Review E 81 (2010) 021502.
  23. “Coarse-grained simulations of flow-induced nucleation in semi-crystalline polymers”, R. S. Graham and P. D. Olmsted, Physical Review Letters 103 (2009) 115702.
  24. “Nonmonotonic models are not necessary to obtain shear banding phenomena in entangled polymer solutions”, J. M. Adams and P. D. Olmsted, Physical Review Letters 102 (2009) 067801
  25. “The interplay between boundary conditions and flow geometries in shear banding: hysteresis, band configurations, and surface transitions”, J. M. Adams, P. D. Olmsted, and S. M. Fielding, J. Non-Newt. Fl. Mech. 151 (2008) 101-11
  26. “The specific work of flow as a criterion for orientation in polymer crystallisation”, O. O. Mykhaylyk, P. Chambon, R. S. Graham, J. P. A. Fairclough, P. D. Olmsted, and A. J. Ryan, Macromolecules 41 (2008) 1901- 1904
  27. “Perspectives on Shear Banding in Complex Fluids”, P. D. Olmsted, Rheologica Acta 47 (2008) 283-300