2019 International Graduate Summer School on “Frontiers of Soft Matter and Amorphous Materials”


Soft matter and amorphous materials have a wide and important application background in physics, mechanics, biology, engineering, geophysics and other fields. Their related theory is very challenging and the study of such materials form one of the most important fields in the current research of the condensed matter and material science. In recent decades, with the development of new theories and the progress of science and technology, many new research areas have emerged in soft matter and amorphous materials. We plan to organize a summer school from July 1 to July 11, 2019, which covers the basic theories, latest achievements and hot topics in soft matter and amorphous materials. The main topics are divided into two parts. One for glass formation and glass transition (Courses 1-5), and another for granular materials (Courses 6-10).

The School of Physics and Astronomy, SJTU, established in 2013, is a continuation of the old name “Department of Physics”. In the past ten years, the school has relied on the support from the national and local administration policies to recruit talents, and hence the school has achieved monumental development. In recent five years, the school has acquired multiple excellent achievement in the frontier research fields of particle and nuclear physics, condensed matter physics, laser and plasma physics, atomic and molecular physics, optics, and soft condensed matter physics, as well as astronomy and astrophysics.

Institute of Natural Sciences (INS), SJTU, is an interdisciplinary center for creative research which aims at breaking down the traditional confines of individual disciplines, and becoming an intellectual center for world-class interdisciplinary studies. The INS faculty consists of internationally-established scientists as well as distinguished young research fellows, and with specialties in fields ranging from Applied Mathematics, Physics, Computer Sciences, to Engineering, Biology and Life Sciences.


July 1 - 11, 2019


Chen Rui Qiu Building Room 223, Minhang Campus, Shanghai Jiao Tong University,800 Dongchuan Road.

Steering Committee


Target and Characteristics

The target of this summer school is clear and distinctive.

  1. To promote academic exchange and development of domestic research on the frontiers of soft matter and amorphous materials; to facilitate international research teams to tackle some difficult problems with coordinated efforts; to enhance the influence of SJTU in relevant re-search fields.
  2. To promote the cultivation of graduate students and young researchers.
  3. To strengthen the cooperation and exchange between SJTU and other institutions.

In view of the characteristics of soft matter and amorphous materials, we emphasize students’ understanding of the research background of related interdisciplinary fields; enhance students’ physical modeling ability and ability to use new experimental technologies and computational tools in research. By combining coursework, seminars, poster presentation and panel discussions, we want to help students to broaden their horizons and lay a solid foundation in order to make progress in the frontiers of relevant research fields.

Course Contents and Practical Activities

This summer school include ten mini-courses in the field of soft matter and amorphous materials and workshop about some recent advances from July 1 to July 11, 2019. We will spend 6-8 hours for teaching and discussion every day. We plan to invite 10 internationally established experts from Japan, Germany, France, Britain and the United States to give 10 short courses.

Lecturers (Tentative)

We plan to invite 10 well-known experts from Japan, France, India and the United States to open 10 short courses:

Application and Registration

Please register online.

Preference is given to, but not limited to, PhDs, masters and young researchers with a basic understanding of soft matter and amorphous materials, and senior undergraduates who are interested in pursuing degree at SJTU.
The deadline for registration is May 31, 2018 and there is no registration fee.


Week 1

Date Time Speaker
July 1 09:00 ~ 11:00 Peter Harrowell
July 1 13:00 ~ 15:00 Peter Harrowell
July 2 09:00 ~ 11:00 Peter Harrowell
July 2 13:00 ~ 15:00 Hajime Yoshino
July 2 15:30 ~ 17:30 Hajime Yoshino
July 3 09:00 ~ 11:00 Hajime Yoshino
July 3 13:00 ~ 15:00 Xiaoping Jia
July 4 08:30 ~ 11:30 Atsushi Ikeda
July 4 13:00 ~ 15:00 Xiaoping Jia
July 5 08:30 ~ 11:30 Atsushi Ikeda
July 5 13:00 ~ 15:00 Xiaoping Jia

Week 2

Date Time Speaker
July 8 09:00 ~ 11:00 Kunimasa Miyazai
July 8 13:00 ~ 15:00 Kunimasa Miyazai
July 8 15:30 ~ 17:30 Kunimasa Miyazai
July 9 09:00 ~ 11:00 Patrick Charbonneau
July 9 13:00 ~ 15:00 Srikanth Sastry
July 9 15:30 ~ 17:30 Gilles Tarjus
July 10 09:00 ~ 11:00 Gilles Tarjus
July 10 13:00 ~ 15:00 Srikanth Sastry
July 10 15:30 ~ 17:30 Patrick Charbonneau
July 11 09:00 ~ 11:00 Patrick Charbonneau
July 11 13:00 ~ 15:00 Srikanth Sastry
July 11 15:30 ~ 17:30 Gilles Tarjus


Bridging between mean-field and real glasses

By Patrick Charbonneau


Recent years have seen remarkable advances in the mean-field, infinite-dimensional theory of glasses. But do these theoretical predictions actually explain the behavior of real glasses? In these lectures, I will explore this question using numerical and theoretical tools that allow to systematically interpolate between one limit and the other. By tuning spatial dimension or the interaction range between particles, for instance, we can indeed identify theoretically robust features and physical phenomena that fall beyond the mean-field scenario.

In these lectures, I will center on the thermodynamics and dynamics of (metastable) equilibrium liquids. In particular, I will explore the following topics:

• The advantages and challenges of running numerical simulations in higher dimension;

• The theoretical expectations for finite-dimensional systems from RFOT;

• The lessons from the Mari-Kurchan model for going beyond infinite-dimensional mean-field theory.

Arrest, Crystallization and Surfaces Properties of Amorphous Materials: Computer Simulations and Future Challenges in Amorphous Materials

By Peter Harrowell


The subject of the glass transition has accumulated an extensive and rambling literature over the 60 years it has been under active study. As the number of papers increase, the clarity with which key problems are being identified and addressed tends to recede. In this series of talks we shall try and lay out a series of clear questions around three central topics: the structural origin of the kinetic arrest associated with the glass transition, the factors that contribute to slow kinetics of crystallization and, hence, glass formation, and the potential for new applications of amorphous materials based on their adjustable surface properties. The focus of these talks will be the role computer simulations play in both framing question and in connecting to experimental and theoretical developments. For each of these topics, the current state of research will be presented and future research opportunities discussed.

Mechanical and vibrational properties of jammed solids

By Atsushi Ikeda


Many hard and soft condensed matters are dense and disordered solids: glassy systems. Examples include inorganic and metallic glasses, colloids, pastes, foams and granular materials. Recently, it has been established that some of these glassy systems have a critical point in their phase diagram, called the jamming transition. In this lecture, I will discuss the mechanical and vibrational properties of glassy systems, focusing on the impact of the jamming transition.

The plan of the lecture is following:

(1) A brief introduction to the mechanical and vibrational properties of glassy systems.

(2) Critical behaviors of the mechanical and vibrational properties near the jamming transition.

(3) Success and failure of the mean-field theories.

Acoustic probing and pumping of dense granular media

By Xiaoping Jia


Granular materials are an assembly of macroscopic solid grains that interact with each other by frictional forces and form the fragile contact networks. Elastic wave propagation provides not only a unique nonintrusive probe of these inhomogeneous and anisotropic networks but also a controlled perturbation (pump) to trigger the shear instability or unjamming transition. In these lectures, we first describe the linear ultrasound propagation in granular solids and show how the long-wavelength coherent waves give access to elastic moduli whereas the short-wavelength scattered waves are extremely sensitive to local dissipative events. The nonlinear dynamics such as sound velocity slowdown is then analysed on the basis of two plastic deformations at the contact (micro-slip) and grain levels (contact loss), respectively. We finally investigate the triggering of shear instability by the acoustic fluidization (contact lubrication) and discuss implications to quicksands, granular avalanches and dynamic earthquake triggering.

Glasses and the Glass transition: Phenomenology, open questions, and theoretical approaches

By Gilles Tarjus


When cooled fast enough to avoid crystallization, a liquid becomes increasingly viscous and eventually forms a glass. This “glass transition”, one of the oldest unsolved problems in condensed-matter physics, gives rise to a wide diversity of views. In these lectures I will describe the main pieces of the phenomenology of glasses and glass formation, what is there to be explained about it, and what makes glassy systems both interesting and challenging. I will then then introduce theoretical approaches of the glass transition with the associated tools and concepts, and finally review the progress made in the last decade, including new insights concerning the characteristic length scales associated with glass formation.

Emergence and failure of rigidity in glasses : replicated liquid theory and simulations

By Hajime Yoshino


Glasses emerge out of liquids in a continuous manner. How one can infer mechanical properties of glasses from the knowledge of liquids is an intriguing question. In these lectures I discuss recent theoretical progresses on mechanical responses of glasses under shear/normal strains based on the replicated liquid theory. Quite remarkably the replica approach used in combination with the liquid theory allows one to disentangle various kinds of thermal fluctuations ($\alpha$-relaxation, $\beta$-relaxation,.. ) coexisting in liquid so that we can infer solid properties hidden in liquids in a systematic way. In particular, the replica theory predicts unexpected, complex rheology reminiscent of the hierarchical dynamics in spin-glasses in the marginally stable regime (Gardner phase) close to jamming. The crucial weakness of the current theory is that it is still at the mean-field level so that its validity at finite dimensions is not obvious. In these lectures I also discuss recent numerical simulations which examined theoretical predictions in 3 dimensions.

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