Complex fluids are fluids that are homogeneous at macroscopic scales and disordered at microscopic scales, but possess structure on a mesoscopic length scale. For example, in polymer solutions, the intermediate length scale can be the size of a polymer chain. Some other typical examples of complex fluids are surfactant solutions such as micellar solutions and microemulsions, and colloidal suspensions such as ink, milk, foams, and emulsions. In a colloidal suspension, the mesoscopic length scale is the size of the colloid; for example, the size of bubbles in foam. The presence of a mesoscopic scale gives rise to many of the unusual properties of complex fluids arise from the presence of a mesoscopic scale. Complex fluids tend to respond strongly to applied electric or magnetic fields or flow because the intermediate structure is highly sensitive to these perturbations.

For a recent review of complex fluids, see "The New Science of Complex Fluids" by William M. Gelbart and Avinoam Ben-Shaul, J. Phys. Chem. 100, 13169-13189 (1996).

UCLA has a vigorous program in complex fluids. Check out these UCLA faculty who work primarily in this field:


William M. Gelbart Charles M. Knobler Daniel Kivelson Andrea J. Liu Howard Reiss


Robijn Bruinsma Douglas J. Durian Joseph Rudnick


Every Friday afternoon, there is a group meeting for faculty, postdocs and students interested in the statistical mechanics of liquids, including complex fluids. If you would like to be on the mailing list for this meeting, please send email to Dr. Gerardo Soto-Campos at


Each quarter, there is a day-long workshop for people interested in complex fluids in southern California. Participants have come from Caltech, UC Irvine, Cal State Long Beach and Cal State San Bernadino, USC, UCLA and UCSB. The workshop is always held on a Saturday and consists of two talks and a poster session. The organizers of the workshop are Brad Chmelka (UCSB), Doug Durian (UCLA) and David Pine (UCSB). If you would like to be on the mailing list for the workshop, please send email to Barbara Fabian at

Comments or suggestions? Email Rebecca Nyquist. Last modified January 22, 1998.