Alex Travesset group page
Snapshot of a polymer nanocomposite, where nanoparticles and polymers self-assemble into a gyroid.
Professor of Physics
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Zaffarano Hall, office A503
Ames IA 50011
+(515) 2947191
email: trvsst at
"If a black cat crosses your path, it signifies that the animal is going somewhere.", G. Marx
"If it is a tiger instead, it signifies the same but you should be more careful."

Soft condensed matter and biophysics

"Folding and stability of helical bundle proteins from coarse-grained models", A. Kapoor and A. Travesset, Proteins (2013) 10.1002/prot.24269

Background: Proteins are complex machines that perform all the functions that are necessary for life. Understanding how these proteins fold into states that allow them to perform their functions remains an unsolved problem.
What's about: We have provided a coarse-grained model that allows to fold proteins in a computer.
Why it matters?: How proteins fold is key for curing many diseases and for understanding how life is possible.

"Dynamics of DNA-programmable nanoparticle crystallization: gelation, nucleation and topological defects", C. Knorowski and A. Travesset, Soft Matter , 8 , 12053 (2012) 10.1039/C2SM26832A

Background: Nanoparticles can be to assemble in amazing materials by using DNA see post on "Dynamics and Statics.."
What's about: We have characterized what are the dynamics of programmed materials of nanoparticles from DNA and provided explicit predictions so that experiments can synthesize high quality crystals.
Why it matters?: These materials are key for critical applications, from energy to catalysis.

"General Solution to the Electric Double Layer with Discrete Interfacial Charges", S. Vangaveti and A. Travesset, J. Chem. Phys. , 137, 064708 (2012) 10.1063/1.4739300

Background:How charged particles in water arrange near a charged wall? Solutions are known only when the wall is approximated as a continuum, but charges in real systems are discrete, as shown in the figure.
What's about: We have provided an extensive numerical analysis, deriving a complete and general characterization of ion distributions.
Why it matters?: From living cells, to batteries, etc.. charged walls are everywhere!

"Regulation of the Electric Charge in Phosphatidic Acid Domains", W. Wang, N. Anderson, A. Travesset and D. Vaknin, J. Phys. Chem. B, 116, 7213 (2012) 10.1021/jp303840a

Background: Cell walls are made of lipids. Phosphatidic acid is a peculiar lipid: is present in tiny amounts, yet participates in almost all processes that communicate the interior with the exterior of the cell.
What's about: We have characterized, both with calculations and experiments, how calcium regulates the charge of phosphatidic acid by competing against protons (as shown in the figure).
Why it matters?: The charge of phosphatidic acid is directly related to how phophatidic acid is arranged within the membrane and, in this way, organize the information across the cell.

"Dynamics and Statics of DNA-Programmable Nanoparticle Self-Assembly and Crystallization", C. Knorowski, S. Burleigh and A. Travesset, Phys. Rev. Lett. 106, 215501 (2011) 10.1103/PhysRevLett.106.215501

Background: Nanoparticles are the smallest possible arrangement of atoms that still retain macroscopic properties. It is extremely difficult to arrange Nanoparticles into ordered structures, but recently it has been achieved by linking them with DNA.
What's about: We have provided a model that predicts the phase diagram (as shown in the figure) and characterized the dynamics.
Why it matters?: Ordered nanoparticle assemblies can perform amazing functions (catalysis, optical, etc..) not possible with traditional materials.
Physics and Astronomy


Oct 20th: Alex invited at the NSF sponsored workshop "Opportunities in Theoretical and Computational Polymeric Materials and Soft Matter" in Santa Barbara CA
September 10th: Alex to give invited talk at ACS: Coarse-Graining and Multiscale Modeling in Indianapolis, IN.
Aug 2nd: Nathan Horst return to Creighton, he completed a fantastic project on reconfigurable gels!
July 1st: Chris presents a poster at Programmable Self-Assembly of Matter in NYC, NY.
July 1st: Alex to give invited talk at Programmable Self-Assembly of Matter in NYC, NY.
June 13th: Department hosts 35 students from the "Early Outreach Program".
June 7h: Alex to give invited talk at Nanofrontiers in Columbia, MO.
May 28th: We welcome Nathan Horst, from Creighton University, as our SULI intern!
Feb 2nd: Paper with Abhijeet published in Proteins.
Happy new year 2013.
Aug 4th: Tim returns to Vilanova: It was a pleasure to have you here!
July 2nd: Congratulations to Chris for his brilliant prelim!
June 14th: More than 30 High school students come to our Outreach activity, see more here.
June 2nd: We welcome SULI intern Tim Henderson, from Villanova, to our group.
May 10th: Congratulations to Abhijeet for his amazing prelim!
May 5th: Alex gives a talk at the National Academy in DC.


CAREER DMR-0748475 (Biology oriented)
DOE-BES DE-AC02-07CH11358 (Materials Science oriented)

Molecular Dynamics

The magic of GPUs! you try it, you love it! 10.1016/


Tornarem a lluitar, tornarem a sofrir, tornarem a vèncer!