Mark Ilton

Assistant Professor of Physics

Soft matter physics: the study of soft, squishy, and deformable objects. Examples of soft matter are all around us. Most parts of our body (e.g. skin, tendon, blood) and many engineered materials (e.g. plastics, rubbers, foams, gels) fall under the category of soft matter. More precisely, the field of Soft Matter Physics encompasses systems where room temperature thermal energy is comparable to that of applied mechanical or thermal stresses. Soft Matter often includes structure on mesoscopic size scales (sizes anywhere from roughly 10 nm up to about 100 um; between that of a single atom but smaller than we can easily see with the naked eye).

The PoSM Lab at Harvey Mudd College studies both soft elastic solids and non-Newtonian fluids from a curiosity-driven approach. Currently, we are interested in green technologies that use soft materials to address our environmental footprint. In particular, we are studying the fluid dynamics of water-processible polymers and the elastodynamics of mechanical batteries (batteries made of materials that store and release elastic energy). By studying the underlying fundamental physics related to these systems, we aim to inform further development of green technologies.

Recent Publications


Learn more about my research.