Welcome to Physics of Out-of-Equilibrium Systems!
Among what we call matter and phenomena, those at thermal equilibrium or close to it are now deeply understood, on the basis of the celebrated thermodynamics and statistical physics (yet there still remain many unanswered questions). Their framework tells us how universally one can describe those equilibrium systems. However, when we turn our eyes to daily life, we find convection of miso soup (yes, we are in Japan!), pattern formation of sands and clouds, cooperative phenomena of biomolecules and animal flocking... we are surrounded by phenomena driven out of equilibrium. Then to what extent can we understand those out-of-equilibrium phenomena, in terms of universal laws and concepts of physics..?
Macroscopic phenomena sometimes exhibit rather strong universality when they become scale-invariant (when undergoing a continuous phase transition, for example), even out of equilibrium. In our lab, we put particular focus on out-of-equilibrium scaling laws governing phase transitions and growth phenomena, and study them experimentally, mainly using turbulent states of electrically driven liquid crystal. Our experimental studies so far identified a number of universal scaling laws that had been predicted theoretically but never arisen experimentally before. On the basis of these results, we are exploring a variety of out-of-equilibrium phenomena at macroscopic scales, in the hope of seizing their laws of physics. In the near future, we plan to extend our scope to other kinds of soft matter and biological phenomena.
About our logo
The inner part of the logo represents the Schlieren pattern of topological defects of liquid crystal (real image), whereas the outer edge shows KPZ-class interface fluctuations, which we discovered in the topological-defect turbulence of liquid crystal (learn more). By depicting smooth Schlieren patterns of individual defects and a fluctuating KPZ interface made of a collection of defects in the single figure, the logo represents our scientific interests in linking microscopic and macroscopic phenomena, as well as deterministic and stochastic problems. Moreover, the intertwined red and blue curves are symbols of our approach incorporating both experimental and theoretical studies.