Understanding the Nature of Soft Matter Physics
Since January 2010, a number of well known European laboratories involved in colloidal research have joined their efforts in a Marie-Curie Initial Training Network called Comploids and is funded by the European Commission. The research focuses on organized collections of molecules, often called colloids. These include small particles, droplets, macromolecules and membranes. New progress in this field relies on understanding increasingly complex colloids and how they interact. This can lead to both, fundamental and applied breakthroughs.
Diverse soft and gooey materials, both natural and man-made, are increasingly being understood due to the work of scientists in Europe and beyond. Wet paint, mayonnaise and shaving foam are some examples that you might encounter today. Curiously they share underlying features. The characteristics of these, not-quite-solid materials depend much less on the choice of molecules and much more on the way that the molecules are organized. The Network will focus on adding complexity to colloids. By integrating the experimental, computational and theoretical research programs of the member groups, the network will advance the state-of-the-art of colloidal science via the training of a cohort of graduate students and junior researchers.
Comploids will tackle major challenges in colloidal science, many of which revolve around making the colloidal particles spontaneously assemble into a desired structure which could be a necklace or a network, a membrane, or a crystal of some special symmetry. To achieve this, the interaction among the colloids must be carefully controlled, say by decorating the colloids with DNA, by putting them in an electric or magnetic field, by suspending them in a liquid crystal or an oil-water-type mixture, or by using rod-like or disk-like particles rather than spheres. No less important for self-assembly is the understanding of the dynamics and ageing of colloidal dispersions. The expected results of the research projects will include knowledge, methods, and strategies needed for the manufacture of novel functional materials based on colloids. Examples for applications of the planned research range from advances in oil-recovery techniques to the development of a new generation of tyres.
Comploids - International Network
The community is coordinated by Prof. Christos N. Likos, University of Vienna, and comprises an EU-wide team made up of the University of Edinburgh, University of Cambridge (United Kingdom), Technische Universität Wien as well as Universität Wien (Austria), Universität Stuttgart (Germany), Università di Roma La Sapienza (Italy), University of Bordeaux - CNRS Paul Pascal (France), FORTH (Greece), Univerza v Ljubljani and Institut Jožef Stefan (Slovenia). Industrial participation is led by Rhodia's Laboratoire de Futur (France) and Schlumberger Cambridge Research (United Kingdom). The network is supported by several associated partners.
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Christos N. Likos
Faculty of Physics
University of Vienna, Austria