A Tour of My Soft Matter Garden: From Shining Globules and Soap Bubbles to Cell Aggregates

Nom de la revue
Annual Review of Condensed Matter Physics
Françoise Brochard-Wyart

Like The Magic Flute, my career has been paved by wonderful and unexpected stories played by enthusiastic and talented students, in close contact with experiments and industry. I participated in the birth of soft matter physics under the impulse of Pierre-Gilles de Gennes: polymers, liquid crystals, colloids, and wetting, which I later applied to the study of living matter. By teaching in the early days at the Institut Universitaire de Technologies d'Orsay, I came into contact with industry, which gave me the chance to collaborate with several companies: Rhône-Poulenc, Dior, Saint-Gobain, Rhodia, and Michelin. These partners have not only largely financed my research in physical chemistry but they also offered a wealth of innovative research topics. In 1996, when Professor Jacques Prost became the director of the Physico-Chimie Curie laboratory, in the Pavillon Curie built for Marie Curie, I turned to biophysics. I initiated collaborations with biologists, applying soft matter physics to the mechanics of cells and tissues. Pierre-Gilles de Gennes has been a wonderful guide throughout this scientific adventure to build my soft matter garden.