Academic Profile

Academic Profile

Asst Prof Ni Ran

Assistant Professor

School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering
College of Engineering

Phone: (+65)6790 6737
Office: N1.2-B1-12

  • PhD (Physics) Utrecht University 2012
  • Master of Chemical Engineering Beijing Univ of Chemical Technology 2008
  • B. Mathematics Beijing Univ of Chemical Technology 2005
Dr. Ni received his B.S. (2005) in Computational Mathematics and M.S. (2008) in Chemical Engineering from Beijing University of Chemical Technology. From 2008 to 2012, he did his Ph.D. in Physics with Prof. Marjolein Dijkstra in Utrecht University (the Netherlands) focusing on the computational study on the self-assembly of colloidal systems. From 2012 to 2014, he did his postdoc with Profs. Martien A. Cohen Stuart and Peter G. Bolhuis focusing on the self-assembly of fibril-forming polypeptides. In 2014, he was awarded the NWO VENI fellowship which is the most prestigious personal grant for young scientists in the Netherlands to start independent research. In March 2016, he joined the School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering in Nanyang Technological University as an assistant professor.

2016: Best Research Prize by the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) Action – Flowing Matter [An annual prize for European Early Stage Researchers in soft matter within eight years after the date of PhD]
2015: Thousand Young Talents Program from Chinese Central Government [declined]
2014: NWO VENI Talent Personal Grant
2011: Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-financed Students Abroad
2005: The First Prize in National Postgraduates Mathematical Contest in Modeling in China
2004: The Honorable Mention in International Mathematical Contest in Modeling,
2002: The Cup of Higher Education Press (Champion) in National Wide Mathematical Contest in Modeling in China
Research Interests
The concept of "soft matter" was first introduced by Pierre-Gilles de Gennes in his Nobel lecture in 1991. Essentially, soft matter is a subfield of condensed matter comprising a variety of physical systems that are deformed or structurally altered by thermal or mechanical stress of the magnitude of thermal fluctuations. Because of their responsivity with respect to perturbations, e.g. thermal fluctuations, mechanical deformation, external fields, etc., soft matter have shown great promise as the next generation “smart materials”.

In our group, we use computer simulation as a tool to study and predict the structural properties and dynamic behaviour of soft matter systems in and out of equilibrium to direct the experimental fabrication of functional materials. In particular, we are interested in the self-assembly of colloidal and (bio) polymer systems and work synergically with experimentalists to design new functional materials with application in photonic devices, bio-sensor, bio-materials, etc. Presently, we are interested in the projects below:

1. Dynamic assembly of active matter
2. Glass transition of anisotropic colloids
3. Hierarchical self-assembly of anisotropic colloids
4. Self-assembly of fibril-forming polypeptides
Current Projects
  • Designing flexible colloidal clusters by using DNA coated particles
  • Hierarchical assembly of colloidal super crystals
  • Self-assembly of colloidal functional materials
  • Understanding the role of locally favoured structures in the hierarchical crystallization and glass transition of anisotropic colloids
Selected Publications
  • Q. Lei, R. Ni, Y. Ma. (2018). Self-assembled chiral photonic crystals from a colloidal helix racemate. ACS Nano, 12, 6860.
  • H. Hu, P. Sampedro Ruiz, R. Ni. (2018). Entropy stablizes floppy crystals of mobile DNA-coated colloids. Physical Review Letters, 120, 048003.
  • Z. Ma, Q. Lei, R. Ni. (2017). Driving dynamic colloidal assembly using eccentric self-propelled colloids. Soft Matter, 13, 8940.
  • Q. Lei, K. Hadinoto, R. Ni. (2017). Role of local assembly in the hierarchical crystallization of associating colloidal hard hemispheres. Physical Review Materials, 1, 052601(R).
  • Qun-li Lei, Kunn Hadinoto, and Ran Ni. (2017). Complexation of Polyelectrolytes with Hydrophobic Drug Molecules in Salt-Free Solution: Theory and Simulations. Langmuir, 33(15), 3900.

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