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Bio-soft matter physics

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Matej Kanduč

I am a research associate at the Department of Theoretical Physics of the Jožef Stefan Institute, Ljubljana.
My research focuses on the theoretical description of biological and soft-matter systems using methods of computer simulations.


Recent research highlights


How the Shape and Chemistry of Molecular Penetrants Control Responsive Hydrogel Permeability

In this ACS Nano article we uncover the molecular principles of permeability and selectivity in hydrogels. The permeability of small molecules (drugs, toxins, reactants, etc.) through hydrogels is a central property in the design of soft functional materials in biomedical, pharmaceutical, and nanocatalysis applications. Dense hydrogels are extremely selective, owing to a delicate balance between the partitioning and diffusivity of the molecules. These properties are sensitively tuned by the molecular size, shape, and chemistry, leading to vast cancellation effects, which nontrivially contribute to the permeability.

M. Kanduč, W.K. Kim, R. Roa, J. Dzubiella, ACS Nano 15, 614 (2021)


Highly Heterogeneous Polarization and Solvation of Gold Nanoparticles in Aqueous Electrolytes

We demonstrate significant effects of explicit metal polarizability on the solvation and electrostatic properties of bare gold nanoparticles in aqueous electrolytes, using classical molecular dynamics simulations with a polarizable core-shell model for the gold atoms. We find considerable spatial heterogeneity of the polarization and electrostatic potentials on the nanoparticle's surface, mediated by a highly facet-dependent structuring of the interfacial water molecules.

M. Kanduč, W.K. Kim, R. Roa, J. Dzubiella, ACS Nano (2021)


Biological systems under negative pressures

Plants pump water under negative pressures, which reach the values up -100 bar. So far, it has be unknown what is the limiting factor for this value. Using atomistic simulations, we showed that this is due to the lipid aggregates that are contained in the plant sap. These aggregates lead to the formation of cavities in the water column if the negative pressure is too strong. The limited suction power affects how plants can get water from drying soil, and with that, in how dry environments plants can grow.

Kanduč et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. (2020)


Line tension in water nanodroplets

Simulations of nanoscale water droplets of spherical and cylindrical morphologies on flat surfaces reveal that the line tension possesses an intrisic dependence on the contact angle.

M. Kanduč, L. Eixeres, S. Liese, R.R. Netz, PRE 98, 032804 (2018)