Sharon C. Glotzer is the Stuart W. Churchill Collegiate Professor of Chemical Engineering, and Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Physics, Applied Physics, and Macromolecular Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Glotzer is a computational scientist, recognized for her work applying statistical thermodynamics and molecular simulation to fundamental problems in self-assembly, colloidal crystallization, and glass formation. She is known in particular for her work on string-like motion in glasses, patchy particles, shape packings, and quasicrystals. Glotzer was born in New York City in 1964 and grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles. She obtained a B.S. in physics from UCLA in 1987, and a PhD in physics from Boston University in 1993. Prior to joining the University of Michigan in 2001, she worked at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, first as an NRC Postdoctoral Fellow, and later as co-founder and Director of the NIST Center for Theoretical and Computational Materials Science. Glotzer is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of both the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is an active member of APS, AIChE, MRS, AAAS, and ACS, and has held elected leadership positions in several of these societies.

Research Interests

Sharon Glotzer's research group develops and applies statistical thermodynamics-based theory and molecular simulation tools to discover the fundamental principles of self-assembly and order-disorder transitions in soft matter. Using computation, geometrical concepts, and statistical mechanics, they seek to understand complex behavior emerging from simple rules and forces, and then use that knowledge to design new classes of materials. They showed that particles in dense fluids move cooperatively along string-like paths that comprise the elementary excitations in glass-forming liquids, and that produce large-scale dynamical heterogeneity near glass and jamming transitions. They proposed a conceptual framework for the self-assembly of patchy particles, a new class of nanoparticle and colloidal building block. The patchy particle paradigm has been used to guide countless experimental, theoretical and computational investigations by the research community. Glotzer's group discovered in computer simulation a new quasicrystal from hard tetrahedra; this crystal is the most complex structure known to arise solely by entropy principles. Following that work, her group showed that entropy can stabilize far more complex and diverse structures than previously known. Glotzer introduced the concept of directional entropic forces, showing how shape can give rise to entropic "valence" that induces colloidal crystallization.

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Primary Section

Section 33: Applied Physical Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 31: Engineering Sciences