Eric Dufresne



Living things organize materials into hierarchical and adaptive structures that no engineer can match.  A single white blood cell is too small to see with our naked eyes, but has more functionality than any robot.  The human brain still outperforms modern computers in many tasks.

At the same time, living things construct these complex systems with naturally abundant chemicals, environmentally friendly by-products, and relatively low energy budgets.  We need to learn from biological systems and develop more sustainable technologies.

Our lab is inspired by biological phenomena that either suggest novel routes to high-performance sustainable materials or push the limits of our understanding of the physics of soft materials.

We investigate these phenomena on two fronts.  On one side, we study living systems, typically with novel quantitative approaches.  On the other, we design synthetic systems that recapitulate the phenomena of interest.  We have found that integrating these complementary approaches offers a tremendous source of creative inspiration for both sides.  When all goes well, we not only achieve new insights into biology, but also articulate new strategies for materials design. 


Department of Physics

Field of Physics

Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Field of Materials Science and Engineering



  • Etienne Jambon-Puillet, Andrea Testa, Charlotta M Lorenz, Robert W Style, Aleksander Rebane, Eric Robert Dufresne, “Phase-Separated Droplets Swim to Their Dissolution” bioRxiv (2023)
  • Carla Fernández-Rico, Sanjay Schreiber, Hamza Oudich, Charlotta Lorenz, Alba Sicher, Tianqi Sai, Stefanie Heyden, Pietro Carrara, Laura De Lorenzis, Robert W. Style, Eric R. Dufresne “Elastic Microphase Separation Produces Robust Bicontinuous Materials” arXiv (2023)
  • Maria Feofilova, Silvan Schüepp, Roman Schmid, Florian Hacker, Hendrik T. Spanke, Nicolas Bain, Katharine E. Jensen, Eric R. Dufresne “Geometrical frustration of phase-separated domains in Coscinodiscus diatom frustules” Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. (2022)
  • Thomas J. Böddeker, Kathryn A. Rosowski, Doris Berchtold, Leonidas Emmanouilidis, Yaning Han, Frédéric H. T. Allain, Robert W. Style, Lucas Pelkmans, Eric R. Dufresne ” Non-specific adhesive forces between filaments and membraneless organelles” Nature Physics (2022)
  • C. Fernandez-Rico, T. Sai, A. Sicher, R. W. Style, and E. R. Dufresne “Putting the Squeeze on Phase Separation”  JACS Au (2021)
  • N. Bain, A. Jagota, K. Smith-Mannschott, S. Heyden, R. Style, E.R. Dufresne ”Surface tension and the strain-dependent topography of soft solids”Physical Review Letters (2021)
  • A. Testa*, M. Dindo*, A. Rebane, B. Nasouri, R.W. Style, R. Golestanian, E.R. Dufresne, P. Laurino “Sustained Enzymatic Activity and Flow in Crowded Protein Droplets” Nature Communications (2021)
  • V. Saranathan, S. Narayanan, A., E.R. Dufresne, R. O. Prum, “Single Gyroid and Inverse b.c.c. Photonic Crystals in Bird Feathers” Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. (2021)  
  • H.T. Spanke, R. W. Style, C. François-Martin, M. Feofilova, M. Eisentraut, H. Kress, J. Agudo-Canalejo, E. R. Dufresne, “Wrapping of Microparticles by Floppy Lipid Vesicles” Phys. Rev. Lett. (2020)
  • K.A. Rosowski*, T. Sai*, R.W. Style, E.R. Dufresne “Elastic ripening and inhibition of liquid-liquid phase separationNature Physics (2020)