For the development of new materials, we need control over the structure of matter on multiple length scales to gain novel mechanical, optical or electronic functionalities. One of the most promising design strategies in materials science is the fabrication of molecular, nanoparticle and colloidal building blocks which can spontaneously self-organize into larger complex superstructures. Such new materials find increasing use in many everyday applications, ranging from electronic devices to coatings and paints, and to the food and drug industry. The reason that the full potential of these materials has not been exploited yet, is that their preparation depends sensitively on directing the self-assembly of the building blocks into the desired predesigned structures. This project aims at visualizing the relationship between building block characteristics and order/disorder in these soft materials to understand and ultimately control the self-assembly process.
In this project, you will investigate the role of shape anisotropy in colloidal building blocks and interactions on self-assembly processes. For this you will synthesize the required colloidal systems and investigate the systems with high resolution confocal laser scanning microscopy. You will develop and employ quantitative anisotropic particle tracking routines to explore nucleation and growth of superstructures and to reveal the role of orientational and translational degrees of freedom. The aim is to obtain new insights into the fundamental processes and general design rules that govern the self-assembly of anisotropic building blocks.
You will be part of the newly established Colloidal Soft Matter group of Dr. Janne-Mieke Meijer, which is embedded in the Soft Matter and Biological Physics group at the Department of Applied Physics. The group works in close collaboration with the Self-Organizing Soft Matter group, and the Physical Chemistry group at the Department of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry via the Institute for Complex Molecular Systems. The group focuses on microscopic investigations of complex colloidal systems to discover the fundamental principles of how building block design influences self-assembly, and how to control the assembly process to engineer new materials. Your project will be part of a large effort to understand colloidal self-assembly and you will collaborate closely with several PhD students and supervise bachelor and master students.
Do you recognize yourself in this profile and would you like to know more? Please contact
Janne-Mieke Meijer, j.m.meijer[at]tue.nl.
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