Greg van Anders' Group

We are a research group in the Department of Physics at the University of Michigan. We work on Emergence, Systems Physics, Soft Condensed Matter, Materials Physics, and Statistical Mechanics.

Group News

Group News


Congratulations Eric!

Eric Harper successfully defended his disseration. He is moving on to a postdoc at AFRL. Congratulations!


Congratulations Rosy!

Rose Cersonsky's MRS talk "Pressure-Induced Phase Transitions in Shape Space" won second place in the CMS Student Presentation Contest. Congratulations Rosy!


Congratulations Andrei!

Andrei Klishin won the 2017 Franken Prize for outstanding achievement by a first or second year graduate physics student at UM.


Congratulations Andrei!

Andrei Klishin successfully completed his preliminary examination.


New Grant!

Greg received a grant from the ONR. The 5-year grant, from the Sea Platforms and Weapons Division (333), will support work in the group the on statistical mechanics and the design of electric ships.


MCubed Project

MCubed awarded us funds to start a collaborative project with Heather Mayes and Sharon Glotzer (UM ChemE) on using Digital Alchemy for protein design.


Congratulations Chrisy!

Chrisy Du has received a Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship, which supports outstanding doctoral candidates at UM.


Congratulations Chrisy!

Chrisy Du won the 2017 GSNP Student Speaker Award at the APS March Meeting for her talk on Entropy Driven Solid–Solid Transitions in Colloids.


We focus on understanding, predicting, and controlling emergent behavior in classical systems, often involving colloids.

We use a variety of analytic and numerical approaches.

A complete list of publications can be found on this Google Scholar page. Here is a sample of some recent work.

Packing and Structure

When does matter pack? We find that that for systems of colloids, even when they are found in dense packing structures, they didn't get there by packing.

Check out our paper in PNAS.

Systems Physics

In designing, e.g., electrical, mechanical, or thermodynamic systems engineers have principles that come from centuries of basics physics investigation to rely on. But what are the basic physics principles that guide how to integrate different systems together?

Check out our paper on the arXiv.

Solid–Solid Transitions

Solid–solid transitions are ubiquitous in nature and technology, but we still have a lot to learn about them. How can we learn more, and what kind of minimal models can we construct to do so?

Check out our paper in PNAS.

Packing in Confinement

How do symmetric, anisotropic objects pack in a spherical container? This simple question is surprisingly difficult to answer, but it has implications for a wide range of physical systems.

Check out our paper in PNAS.

Digital Alchemy

Nanoparticle synthesis yields particles that play the role of atoms in nanomaterials, but have properties that can be controlled in ways atoms can't. What does that freedom mean for materials design, and how do we leverage it?

Check out our paper in ACS Nano.

Shape Entropy

Entropy, especially in the context of anisotropic particle shape, can drive the formation of complex structural order. How does does it do that?

Check out our paper in PNAS.

Entropically Patchy Particles

Nanoparticle synthesis inherently yields anisotropically shaped particles. How can we control shape to produce desired bulk behavior?

Check out our paper in ACS Nano.


Here is a selection of non-technical or semi-technical accounts of our work.

Packing vs. Assembly

Our work on when matter packs was described at

Solid–Solid Transitions

Our work on shape driven solid–solid transitions was described at

Helical Nanostructures

Our work on the controlled self-assembly of helical nanostructures was described at the IOP's

Confined Packing

Our work on packing in confinement was described at

Digital Alchemy

Our work on Digital Alchemy was described in ACS Nano's In Nano.

The Force of Shape

Our work on shape entropy was described in Nature Materials.

Beyond Geometry

Our work on shape entropy was described at


The wonderful people in our group.