Dr. Forrest's research is focused on the behaviour of soft materials at the nanoscale. This includes self assembly of polymers, dynamics in thin films and near surface and interfaces. He has a long standing interest on the dynamics of glassy materials.
- Physics of soft materials
- Physics of polymer thin films
- Crystalline polymers
- Polymer interfaces and adhesion
- Confinement of polymer chains
- Glass transition in confined geometry
- Biomaterials, Polymers and Bioplastics
- Soft Matter
Dynamics in thin polymer films The Waterloo Polymer Physics group has made many important contributions to the study of the glass transition in thin polymer films. The general premise of such studies is that the dynamics in thin films can be significantly different from that of the bulk polymer. From an applied point of view the glass transition is an important parameter describing the temperature dependent dynamics of the system. These properties in turn largely determine which application a particular material is suited for. From a more fundamental viewpoint, thin polymer films provide excellent sample geometry for studying what are termed finite size effects in model glass forming materials. This may lead to significant advances in our understanding of this outstanding unsolved problem in condensed matter physics. Our studies here have focused on measurements of the glass transition temperature, as well as more direct studies of the dynamics. We have used ellipsometry, photon correlation spectroscopy, dielectric relaxation, quartz crystal microbalance, and inelastic neutron scattering in these studies. Properties of polymer surfaces and interfaces There are a number of reasons to think that the properties of polymers may be different at interfaces and surfaces than in the bulk of a material. We have been actively involved in this area from looking at the adhesion of micron sized particles to Porous Silicon (PS) surfaces, embedding of nm sized particle to PS surfaces and looking at interface formation between miscible and immiscible blends when one of the constituents is still in a glassy state. Structural properties in thin films Structural as well dynamical properties can be different in a thin film geometry. We are interested in fundamental questions such as, "What is the density in a thin film?" as well as more applied questions like, "What is the composition in blended systems, or those with impurities?". Our studies in this are span a very wide range. We have used optical scattering techniques, microscopy, dynamics secondary ion mass spectroscopy and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy to study these sample. Biopolymers at surfaces and interfaces Proteins have specific conformations which define their biologically active state. These configurations are typically determined by the details of interactions between the different constituent monomers as well as interactions with the aqueous solution. This delicate balance of interactions which is required to have a protein remain in a biologically active state can be significantly perturbed by the presence of interfaces. The monomer-surface interaction can potentially be much stronger than hydropobic interactions which cause the molecule to campactify and leave open the possibility not only for the protein to adsorb onto the surface but also to denature onto it. We are beginning to investigate proteins at interfaces.
- 1994 PhD Physics/Atomic & Molecular Physics, University of Guelph
- 1990 MSc Physics/Atomic & Molecular Physics, University of Guelph
- 1987 BSc Physics, University of British Columbia
- 2013, Brockhouse Medal, Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP)
- 2008 Fellowship in American Physical Society
- Academic Program Director, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
- 2010: Acting Associate Director of Research and Grad Studies, School of Pharmacy, University of Waterloo
- 2010: Associate Dean of Research, Faculty of Science, University of Waterloo
- 2009: Director, Materials Science and Nanotechnology, North Dakota State University
- 2005 - 2009: Director, Guelph Waterloo Physics Institute
Affiliations and Volunteer Work
- Associate Faculty Member, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
- Member, Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology
- Member, Institute for Polymer Research
- Member, Centre for Bioengineering and Biotechnology
- NE 216 - Advanced Calculus and Numerical Methods 1
- Taught in 2022
- PHYS 111 - Physics 1
- Taught in 2018, 2023
- PHYS 112 - Physics 2
- Taught in 2021, 2022
- PHYS 650 - Perimeter Scholars International Explorations in Quantum Gravity
- Taught in 2019
* Only courses taught in the past 5 years are displayed.
- Mohit S Verma, Jackson M Tsuji, Brad Hall, Paul Z Chen, James Forrest, Lyndon Jones, Frank X Gu. "Towards point-of-care detection of polymicrobial infections: rapid colorimetric response using a portable spectrophotometer". Sensing and Bio-Sensing Research, 2016
- Maxence Arutkin, Elie Raphaël, James A Forrest, Thomas Salez. "Cooperative strings in glassy nanoparticles". arXiv:1603.07539, 2016
- Yu Chai, James Forrest. "Crystallization of atactic polystyrene". APS Meeting Abstracts, 2016
- Kari Dalnoki-Veress, James A Forrest. "New section for The European Physical Journal E:“Tips and Tricks in Soft Matter and Biological Physics”. The European Physical Journal E, 38, 12 
- Thomas Salez, Justin Salez, Kari Dalnoki-Veress, Elie Raphaël, James A Forrest. "Cooperative strings and glassy interfaces". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112, 27 [8227-8231]
- Please see Google Scholar for a complete list of Dr. Forrest's publications.
In The News
- June 29, 2015: Physicists shatter stubborn mystery of how glass forms.
- June 29, 2015: Secret Behind Glass Formation is Shattered.
- June 30, 2015: Glass Formation Mystery Shattered By Physicists.
- February 28, 2014: Physicists solve 20-year-old debate surrounding how glassy surfaces flow like a liquid.
- May 6, 2013: Brockhouse Medal recognizes groundbreaking scientists.