Date of Award

Fall 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MSc)


Physics and Astronomy


Maikel Rheinstaedter




Soft condensed matter systems are a very diverse and challenging subject to study. To understand the complex macro-properties of such systems one approach is to characterize the microscopic structure and dynamics. A powerful technique for determining micro and nanoscale properties is scattering of radiation sources. Light, electron and neutron scattering techniques provide insight into the complicated molecular structures and the processes happening on these small scales.

We have used neutron and x-ray scattering techniques to determine structural and dynamical information from two different types of soft condensed matter systems. The microscopic nature of a cobalt magnetic fluid was studied using neutron scattering, and the structure and dynamics of molecules within lipid bilayers was studied with the use of both neutron and x-ray scattering.

Under strong magnetic fields, our cobalt fluid's small magnetic particles formed short chains, which we observed using neutron scattering.

In the lipid bilayer systems which were studied we determined the positional orientation of cholesterol, Aspirin, and ethanol molecules, observed the effect of temperature on some of these systems, characterized domains and dynamics, and recreated the molecular structures of Alzheimer's protein in a brain-like membrane.

McMaster University Library

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