Mark Matsen

Mark Matsen
Location: QNC 5602
Phone: 519-888-4567 x39052


Mark Matsen holds a joint position as a Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Dr. Matsen's research focuses on theory and simulations involving the self-assembly of nanostructured polymers, such as block copolymers, liquid-crystalline polymers, polyelectrolytes and polymeric brushes. While he continues to build on his reputation for self-consistent field theory (SCFT), Professor Matsen is currently developing the next generation of theoretical techniques, specifically field-theoretic simulations (FTS).

Research Interests

  • Molecular self-assembly in polymeric systems
  • Block copolymers
  • Polymeric brushes
  • Self-consistent field theory
  • Lattice polymer simulations
  • Field-theoretic simulations
  • Biomaterials and Polymers
  • Dr. Matsen's research focuses on molecular self-assembly in polymeric systems involving block copolymers. Block copolymer molecules consist of chemically distinct polymer chains (i.e., blocks) covalently bonded together, and they self-assemble because of a general tendency for unlike blocks to phase separate. When this happens, the unlike blocks form microdomains often with some intricate periodically-ordered geometry. Not only do these molecules possess significant commercial applications, they also represent a model system for studying general phenomena associated with molecular self-assembly. This is in part due to various experimental advantages of working with polymeric materials, and also because there exists a highly advanced theory for modelling block copolymers known as self-consistent field theory (SCFT). There is also relatated field-theoretic simulations (FTS). The systems that are examined vary from simple melts of diblock copolymer to block copolymers with elaborate architectures. He also look at blends of various block copolymer combinations and blends with conventional polymers and/or solvents.
  • Issues that he examines include:
  • Developments in self-consistent field theory
  • Developments in field-theoretic simulations
  • Monte Carlo simulations of block copolymers
  • Universality of block copolymer behaviour
  • Electric field alignment of block copolymer thin-film morphologies
  • SCFT applications with axial symmetry
  • Entropic segregation at polymer surfaces


  • 1992, Doctorate Physics, University of Guelph, Canada
  • 1987, Bachelor's Mathematical Physics, Simon Fraser, Canada


  • 2008, Fellow, American Physical Society


  • Editor, Physics Review Letters
  • Editor, European Physical Journal E: Soft Matter

Volunteer Work

  • Jointly appointed, Department of Chemical Engineering
  • Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology


  • CHE 620 - Applied Engineering Mathematics
    • Taught in 2019
  • PHYS 115 - Mechanics
    • Taught in 2020, 2023
  • PHYS 263 - Classical Mechanics and Special Relativity
    • Taught in 2019, 2020, 2021

* Only courses taught in the past 5 years are displayed.

Selected/Recent Publications

  • Blaber, S and Mahmoudi, P and Spencer, RKW and Matsen, MW, Effect of chain stiffness on the entropic segregation of chain ends to the surface of a polymer melt, The Journal of chemical physics, 150(1), 2019
  • T. M. Beardsley and M. W. Matsen, Calibration of the Flory-Huggins interaction parameter in field-theoretic simulations. J. Chem. Phys. 150, 174902 (2019) (Accepted in 2019)
  • Blaber, Steven and Abukhdeir, Nasser and Matsen, Mark, Backfolding Transitions in a Liquid Crystalline Polymer Brush, Bulletin of the American Physical Society, 2019
  • Sunday, Daniel F and Chang, Alice B and Liman, Christopher D and Gann, Eliot and Delongchamp, Dean M and Thomsen, Lars and Matsen, Mark W and Grubbs, Robert H and Soles, Christopher L, Self-Assembly of ABC Bottlebrush Triblock Terpolymers with Evidence for Looped Backbone Conformations, Macromolecules, 51(18), 2018, 7178 - 7185
  • Mahmoudi, P and Forrest, WSR and Beardsley, TM and Matsen, MW, Testing the universality of entropic segregation at polymer surfaces, Macromolecules, 51(3), 2018, 1242 - 1247