Bridging Time and Length Scales in Materials Science and Bio-Physics

September 12 - December 16, 2005


Physical, chemical, and biological processes for many problems in computational physics, biology, and materials sciences span length and time scales of many orders of magnitude. For example, on the microscopic level, the typical bond distance between atoms is of the order of Ångstroms (the lattice constant), and atoms vibrate with a frequency of approx. 1013 1/s. On the other hand, phenomena and applications of practical interest occur on a timescale of seconds, with system sizes that can be micrometer or larger. A grand challenge in computational physics, biology, and materials sciences is to link these vastly different time and length scales.

Traditionally, scientists and research groups have typically focused on methods that are particularly applicable in only a small regime. For example, due to the increase in computational power together with the advance of novel physical methodology and computer algorithms, there is a very active and rapidly growing community for electronic-structure calculations. These quantum-mechanical calculations are particularly well suited to describe the energetics and dynamics of few (maybe up to 1000) atoms. At the other end of the spectrum, applied mathematics has made large progress in numerical solutions to partial differential equations that are typically used to describe much larger (continuum) scales. By construction these methods do not resolve individual atoms any longer.

It is the aim of this program to bring together scientists and mathematicians with expertise in modeling, analysis and computation that is valid on all different time and length scales, from the atomistic to the continuum. A main goal is to facilitate modeling that combines these different modeling techniques. Moreover, we want to bring together scientists from seemingly different areas such as physics, materials sciences, mathematics, and biology. Many of the challenges in these different areas are similar, and we trust that these different communities can learn a lot from each other, which undoubtedly will initiate great synergetic contacts and collaborations.

Organizing Committee

Russel Caflisch, Chair (University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Mathematics and Materials Science)
Cecilia Clementi (Rice University)
Weinan E (Princeton University, Mathematics)
Michael Klein (University of Pennsylvania, Chemistry)
Christian Ratsch (UCLA, Mathematics)
Karsten Reuter (Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Theory Department)
Matthias Scheffler (Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Theory Department)
Klaus Schulten (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Physics and Biophysics)
Annabella Selloni (Princeton University)