Research Area A: Nanoparticles

This area deals with the 2D and 3D structure formation of gold nanoparticle (AuNP) assemblies at a soft surface, which consists of a stimuli-responsive polymer coating on a solid substrate (either adsorbed polymer microgels or polymer brushes). Such composite coatings can be used, e.g., for optical devices or as sensors.

Research Area B: Supramolecules

The controlled self-assembly of anisotropic supramolecular aggregates is a powerful approach to produce sophisticated materials with precise spatial arrangement of functional groups. In research area B, we propose to combine synthesis with structural and dynamical characterization by X-ray scattering and theoretical modeling to understand how experimental conditions such as temperature and pH influence the kinetic pathways and resulting structures of surface-directed supramolecular self-assembly.

Research Area C: Supraparticles

When liquids with dispersed colloids evaporate, the colloids left behind can form complex structures. These structures are important in many natural phenomena and technical applications. Therefore, it is desirable to better understand evaporation of suspensions. The aim of this project is to gain such understanding and structure control for evaporating drops of suspensions on superamphiphobic surfaces through combined experiments and simulations.

Research Area D: Microgels

Thermo-sensitive gels can undergo swelling–deswelling transitions upon change of temperature, accompanied by significant changes of their elastic and Young’s moduli. This change is beneficial for applications in elasticity-switchable cell substrates. However, the change of the gel elasticity is associated with changes in their adhesiveness, which would cause problems in latter applications. To tackle this challenge, we propose to design micrometer-sized gels with core–shell architecture.