Theoretical condensed matter physics, weakly-connected matter.
His research concerns the statistics of "structured" fluids, containing polyatomic species such as polymers, surfactant micelles or colloidal particles, and aggregates. One current interest is heterogeneous polymers, in which competing interactions give novel structures and metastability to a polymer fluid. He is studying new structures that such polymers take on when they are near a solid substrate and the consequences of topological and twisting constraints in polymer fluids. He is also studying the mechanics of crumpled elastic membranes, surfactant monolayers and granular materials. He wishes to understand the distinctive ways in which stress propagates and relaxes in these materials to give them their distinctive strength characteristics.
Case Centennial Scholar Award, Case Western Reserve University, 1980
Fellow, American Physical Society, 1988
Polymer Physics Prize, American Physical Society, 2002 "For outstanding theoretical contributions to the understanding of polymers and complex fluids".
Stress Condensation in Crushed Elastic Manifolds. E.M. Kramer and T.A. Witten. Phys. Rev. Lett. 78, 1303, 1997.
Capillary Flow as the Cause of Ring Stains from Dried Liquid Drops. R.D. Deegan, O. Bakajin, T.F. Dupont, G. Huber, S.R. Nagel, and T.A. Witten. Nature 389, 827, 1997.
Insights from Soft Condensed Matter. T.A. Witten. In More Things in Heaven and Earth: A Celebration of Physics at the Millennium, ed., B. Bederson, Springer, 1999.
Shear of telechelic brushes. E. Eiser, J. Klein, T.A. Witten and L.J. Fetters. Phys Rev. Lett. 82, 5076, 2000.
Stress in frictionless granular material : Adaptive Network Simulations. A.V. Tkachenko and T.A. Witten. Phys. Rev. E 62, 2510, 2000.
Topography of biphasic surfactant monolayers. H. Diamant T. A. Witten, A. Gopal, K.Y.C. Lee. Europhysics Letters 52, 171, 2000.