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 the theory of a variety of different soft materials (microrheology, membrane dynamics, polymer phase separation, 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. 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. In 2014 he moved to Georgetown University in Washington DC, as Joseph Semmes Ives Chair in Physics, where he joined the Institute for Soft Matter Synthesis and Metrology (ISM2), where he was Director from 2015-2021. He was the Secretary/Treasurer of the APS Topical Group on Soft Matter (DSOFT) from 2014-2018.
Olmsted is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics (UK), the American Physical Society (Division of Polymer Physics), and the Society of Rheology, 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, theories for shear banding in complex fluids such as polymer and surfactants, an experimental-computational collaboration that revealed how mechanical force unfolds proteins, and recent work on polymer dynamics and disentanglement during additive manufacturing.
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.
Recent & Selected Publications
“Cooperative intramolecular dynamics control the chain-length dependent glass transition in polymers”, Daniel L. Baker, Matthew Reynolds, Robin Masurel, Peter D. Olmsted, and Johan Mattsson, Physical Review X 12 (2022) 021047.
“Probing the nonequilibrium dynamics of stress, orientation, and entanglements in polymer melts with orthogonal interrupted shear simulations”, Marco A. Galvani Cunha, Peter D. Olmsted and Mark O. Robbins, Journal of Rheology 66 (2022) 619.
“Particle formation mechanisms in the reprecipitation of polymers”, Chen Zhao, Scott Melis, Eleni P. Hughes, Tingting Li, Xinran Zhang, Peter D. Olmsted, and Edward Van Keuren, Langmuir 36 (2020) 13210-13217.
“Scission of flexible polymers in contraction flow: predicting the effects of multiple passages”, Sandeep Garrepally, Stephane Jouenne, Peter D. Olmsted, and Francois Lequeux, Journal of Rheology 64 (2020) 601-614.
“Frustration and thermalization in an artificial magnetic quasicrystal”m Dong Shi, Zoe Budrikis, Aaron Stein, Sophie A. Morley, Peter D. Olmsted, Gavin Burnell & Christopher H. Marrows, Nature Physics 14 (2018) 309-314.
“Disentanglement effects on welding behaviour of polymer melts during the fused-filament-fabrication method for additive manufacturing”, Claire McIlroy and P. D. Olmsted, Polymer 123 (2017) 376-391
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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 http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevE.82.041920
“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. http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevE.81.051109
“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. http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevE.81.021502
“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 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jnnfm.2008.01.008
“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 http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ma702603v