Faculty Directory
Erik Luijten

Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and (by courtesy) Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics, Physics and Astronomy, and Chemistry

Associate Dean for Research and Doctoral Education


2220 Campus Drive
Cook Hall 2045
Evanston, IL 60208

Email Erik Luijten


Computational Soft Matter Lab


Materials Science and Engineering

Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics


PhD Program in Applied Physics


Ph.D. Physics, Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands

M.Sc. Physics, Institute for Theoretical Physics, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands

Research Interests

Computational Materials Science of Soft Matter

My research focuses on the statistical mechanics and thermodynamics of materials, with a strong emphasis on complex fluids, such as polymeric systems, colloids, electrolytes, and active matter. These systems are studied predominantly by means of computer simulations, through which we aim to realize our primary goals: First, to understand experimentally observed phenomena from the underlying microscopic features of a system, and second, to test the predictive value of analytic theories describing these systems. The insight thus gained allows the prediction of yet unknown properties of materials and the design of new materials.

Current research projects concern problems in self-assembly (from colloidal materials to nanoparticles for drug delivery), self-organization, charge transport in electrolytes, programmable and active matter, and dielectric materials.

Despite the steady increase in available computer power, many of these problems hover on the verge of what is feasible. Therefore, in order to obtain scientifically worthwhile results within an acceptable time frame, it is essential to employ state-of-the-art techniques. We take an active interest in the development of new methodologies, both simulation techniques and advanced approaches to data analysis. Notable advances have been achieved in the development of Monte Carlo algorithms for systems with long-range interactions and systems containing components with large size disparities; in both cases, our methods accelerate the simulations by many orders of magnitude. Important recent advances also include highly efficient methods for dynamic dielectric materials and electrokinetic phenomena.


Significant Recognition

  • Fellow, American Physical Society (2013)
  • Xerox Award for Faculty Research (2006)
  • NSF CAREER Award (2004)
  • Helmholtz Award, International Association for the Properties of Water and Steam (2003)
  • Collins Scholar, Academy for Excellence in Engineering Education (2001-2002)

Significant Professional Service

  • Racheff Assistant Professor (2001-2003)

Selected Publications

  • Yuan, Jiaxing; Antila, Hanne S.; Luijten, Erik, Dielectric Effects on Ion Transport in Polyelectrolyte Brushes, ACS Macro Letters 8(2):183-187 (2019).
  • Han, Ming; Whitmer, Jonathan K.; Luijten, Erik, Dynamics and structure of colloidal aggregates under microchannel flow, Soft Matter 15(4):744-751 (2019).
  • Antila, Hanne S.; Luijten, Erik, Dielectric Modulation of Ion Transport near Interfaces, Physical review letters 120(13) (2018).
  • Freeman, Ronit; Han, Ming; Álvarez, Zaida; Lewis, Jacob A.; Wester, James R.; Stephanopoulos, Nicholas; McClendon, Mark T.; Lynsky, Cheyenne; Godbe, Jacqueline M.; Sangji, Hussain; Luijten, Erik; Stupp, Samuel I., Reversible self-assembly of superstructured networks, Science 362(6416):808-813 (2018).
  • Han, Ming; Yan, Jing; Granick, Steve; Luijten, Erik, Effective temperature concept evaluated in an active colloid mixture, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 114(29):7513-7518 (2017).
  • Rozynek, Zbigniew; Han, Ming; Dutka, Filip; Garstecki, Piotr; Józefczak, Arkadiusz; Luijten, Erik, Formation of printable granular and colloidal chains through capillary effects and dielectrophoresis, Nature communications 8 (2017).
  • Lee, Michelle W.; Han, Ming; Bossa, Guilherme Volpe; Snell, Carly; Song, Ziyuan; Tang, Haoyu; Yin, Lichen; Cheng, Jianjun; May, Sylvio; Luijten, Erik; Wong, Gerard C.L., Interactions between Membranes and "metaphilic" Polypeptide Architectures with Diverse Side-Chain Populations, ACS nano 11(3):2858-2871 (2017).
  • Wu, Huanxin; Han, Ming; Luijten, Erik, Dielectric effects on the ion distribution near a Janus colloid, Soft Matter 12(47):9575-9584 (2016).
  • Yan, Jing; Han, Ming; Zhang, Jie; Xu, Cong; Luijten, Erik; Granick, Steve, Reconfiguring active particles by electrostatic imbalance, Nature materials 15(10):1095-1099 (2016).
  • Gan, Zecheng; Jiang, Shidong; Luijten, Erik; Xu, Zhenli, A hybrid method for systems of closely spaced dielectric spheres and ions, SIAM Journal on Scientific Computing 38(3):B375-B395 (2016).
  • Wei, Zonghui; Ren, Yong; Williford, John Michael; Qu, Wei; Huang, Kevin; Ng, Shirley; Mao, Hai Quan; Luijten, Erik, Simulation and Experimental Assembly of DNA-Graft Copolymer Micelles with Controlled Morphology, ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering 1(6):448-455 (2015).
  • Wei, Zonghui; Luijten, Erik, Systematic coarse-grained modeling of complexation between small interfering RNA and polycations, Journal of Chemical Physics 143(24) (2015).
  • Myers, Benjamin D.; Lin, Qing Yuan; Wu, Huanxin; Luijten, Erik; Mirkin, Chad A.; Dravid, Vinayak P., Size-Selective Nanoparticle Assembly on Substrates by DNA Density Patterning, ACS nano 10(6):5679-5686 (2016).