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SoftComp e-Newsletter No. 3 - September 2020

Dear Members and Friends of SoftComp,

The corona pandemic is affecting all aspects of our everyday lives, to a greater or lesser extent. Fortunately, science as a whole has only been moderately impacted
– with scientific communication in the form of talks, workshops and conferences being the main casualty. The scientific community has reacted very quickly to fill this gap, at least in part, by the organization of virtual online conferences. And virtual conferences are here to stay!

Such conferences have their limitations; in particular, the informal personal contact between scientists, which is important at the start of new collaborations, is lost. However, their advantages are not to be underestimated, e.g. in terms of economy of time, outreach, and energy conservation. Indeed, this last aspect is extremely important.

We are in fact already in the middle of the next crisis, the climate crisis. The resolution of this crisis will require much more time and resources than the resolution of the corona crisis. Thus, the corona pandemic provides a great opportunity to speed up and enhance the development of online conferencing and communication, enabling the science community to contribute to the prevention of further global warming.

Let’s use this opportunity!

Best regards,
Angela Wenzik & Gerhard Gompper
for the SoftComp Coordination, Management and Communication Team

Scientific News

The doubly reentrant surface geometry couples the three key wetting properties antagonistically. These properties are: the contact angle hysteresis (top), minimum energy pathway to failure (left), and critical breakdown pressure (right). Optimal design can only be achieved through a simultaneous balance between all three. Copyright: Durham University

Designing Optimal Super-liquid-repellent Surfaces

Scientist from Durham University, UK, developed a versatile and efficient simulation strategy for the practical realization of structured surfaces with special wettability. Their computational techniques comprehensively survey the three key wetting properties required for high operational performance of doubly reentrant surfaces, and allows the simultaneous optimization of these properties to produce application-specific designs.

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Surface pattered with 3D soft mushroom features showing adhesion via mechanical interlocking of mushroom features onto a textile fabric. Copyright: Wageningen University & Research

3D Printed Bioinspired Surface Patterning for Soft Robotics

Research work by the Dutch universities of Wageningen and Groningen shows that 3D mushroom-shaped surface features have desirable mechanical functionality to adhere to soft and rough surfaces such as fabrics via mechanical interlocking. Such studies can inspire new, innovative designs of interfacial mechanics for new applications in robotics.

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Artificial Cells and Soft Microrobots: Controlling Shape, Motility, and Sensing

Scientists at Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany, propose that engineered flexocytes with the appropriate mechanosensitive capabilities enable the construction of soft-matter microrobots.

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Direct Observation of Tube Dilation in Polymer Blends

Scientists of the University of the Basque Country, Spain, and Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany, exploited the spatial and time resolution of neutron spin echo (NSE) to directly probe the time-dependent tube dilation in blends of entangled polymers mixed with small polymers of different topologies: linear and star.

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Achieving Long Spin Diffusion Lengths in Carbon-based Semiconductors

Scientists of the University of Mainz, Germany, report measuring spin diffusion lengths in doped conjugated polymers using a lateral spin transport device architecture, which is based on spin pumping injection and inverse spin Hall detection.

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Personalia & Miscellaneous News

Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV), Spain, has been accepted as a new SoftComp partner; we are now waiting for the final documents to formalize its access to the Consortium. URV is located in the Catalan cities of Tarragona and Reus.

SoftComp hired a Social Media Officer in 2020. Dr. Roksana Markiewicz (Adam Mickiewicz University) is a chemist at the Nano-BioMedical Centre in Poznań, Poland. She will promote and connect SoftComp initially via two newly created SoftComp social media profiles: @SoftCompNetwork on Twitter and SoftComp Consortium on LinkedIn.

Two new Innovative Training Networks have been granted funding from the European Union, each of them for 15 PhD positions from 2020 – 2024:
The scientific objective of the EU-ITN PHYMOT is to understand the physics of cell motility, from single cells to collective behaviour. The network is expected to have a significant impact on the rapidly growing fields of microbial motility, parasite infections, and environmental microbiology. PHYMOT comprises eleven academic and three private partners at the interface of physics, biology, and engineering and is administered by Forschungszentrum Jülich.
The EU-ITN SuperCol plans to get a closer look at colloidal surfaces both visually and with receptor chemistry in order to aid the development of these particle systems. The project will combine super-resolution microscopy, colloidal sciences, and advanced modelling to control, visualize and quantify, and rationally design surface-functionality to advance particle-based biomedical applications. SuperCol comprises six academic and two private core partners as well as nine associate partners and is coordinated at Eindhoven University of Technology.

Dr. Alexandra Bayles (ETH Zurich) will join the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Delaware as an assistant professor in 2021. The Department is consistently ranked as one of the top Chemical Engineering departments in the US, with a strong tradition in transport phenomena and soft matter research and good relations with SoftComp.

Dr. Christian Lang (Forschungszentrum Jülich) received an “Enzo Ferroni Award for a Young Scientist” at the 33rd Conference of the European Colloid and Interface Society (ECIS 2019). The physicist received the prize for his investigations into the flow behaviour of rod-shaped colloids in suspensions and its quantitative predictions.

Prof. Dr. Luis Liz-Marzán (University of Vigo, the CIC biomaGUNE, the Basque Foundation for Science Ikerbasque, and the Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red Bioingeniería, Biomateriales y Nanomedicina (CIBER-BBN)) has been awarded the Spanish National Research Award “Enrique Moles” in Chemical Science and Technology and the Spanish-German “Elhuyar-Goldschmidt Award”. Furthermore,
he was elected Corresponding Member of the Galician Royal Academy of Sciences, Full Member of the Spanish Royal Academy of Sciences, and Member of Academia Europaea.

Dr. Doreen Niether (Forschungszentrum Jülich) received a 2019 Jülich Excellence prize for her thesis work. She investigated the relation between thermophoresis and the formation of hydrogen bonds, in order to develop models to solve the ‘origin of life’ puzzle and to gain information about protein-ligand binding.

Prof. Wilson Poon (University of Edinburgh) was awarded the 2019 Institute of
Physics Sam Edward Medal for “his outstanding contributions to the fundamental study of condensed matter physics, statistical physics and biophysics using model colloidal systems”. He was also awarded the 2019 Thomas Graham Lectureship by the Joint Colloid and Surface Science Group of the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Society of Chemical Industry.

Dr. Felix Roosen-Runge (Lund University) has received the Wolfram-Prandl-Prize
2018 from the “Komitee für Forschung mit Neutronen” for “his outstanding contributions
to neutron scattering studies of the phase behaviour and dynamics of protein solutions. His original work has advanced the quantitative understanding of these complex systems both experimentally and theoretically”.

Dr. Benedikt Sabass (Forschungszentrum Jülich) has been awarded a Starting
Grant by the European Research Council (ERC). Over five years, the physicist will receive a total of approximately € 1.5 million in funding for his research project “Quantifying minute forces: How mechanoregulation determines the behaviour of pathogenic bacteria” from the European Union’s research funding programme Horizon 2020.

Dr. Kislon Voitchovsky (Durham University) has been awarded a five-year Fellowship from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) worth £1.17 million. The award supports the development of a novel type of microscope that will be able to track in-situ and locally the dynamics of single ions at the surface of immersed solids with a resolution exceeding 1 nanometre and 50 nanoseconds. The microscope will subsequently be used to uncover the molecular mechanisms enabling certain ions and charged molecules to migrate efficiently through composite materials while preventing others. It will also enable direct comparisons with molecular dynamics simulations.

Event Reports

ISMC2019 plenary talks were held in the impressive McEwan Hall. Copyright: University of Edinburgh, Paul Maguire

ISMC2019: Spectacular Settings in Edinburgh

The fifth International Soft Matter Conference took place in Edinburgh, UK, from 03-07 June in 2019 and attracted 500 delegates from all over the world.

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120 Participants at SoftComp/EUSMI Annual Meeting 2019

120 soft matter scientists attended the Joint SoftComp/EUSMI Annual Meeting 2019 wich took place in Portonovo (AN), Italy, from 8-10 October 2019.

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Upcoming Events

SoftComp Annual Meeting 2021

The SoftComp Annual Meetings represent a forum for all SoftComp participants to discuss scientific work accomplished and the implementation of future goals. Due to the Coronavirus, no meeting will take place in 2020. More information on the 2021 meeting will be announced in due course under the following URL:

International Soft Matter Conference 2022 (ISMC2022)

SAVE THE DATE: The 6th International Soft Matter Conference (ISMC2022) will be held in Poznan, Poland from 5-9 September 2022.

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About SoftComp

SoftComp first emerged in 2004 as a Network of Excellence – a tool developed under the 6th Framework Programme of the European Commission – and continued as a self-sustaining Consortium in December 2009, when EU funding came to an end. SoftComp deals with the integration of European research, seeking to strengthen scientific and technological excellence in soft matter. In particular, it aims to establish a knowledge base for the intelligent design of functional and nanoscale soft matter composites, by overcoming the present fragmentation of this important field involved in the development of new materials at the interface of non-living and living matter, where the delicate principles of self-assembly in polymeric, surfactant and colloidal matter prevail. SoftComp has created an integrated team that is able to mobilize European potential in soft matter composite materials and thus disseminate excellence through extensive training and knowledge transfer schemes. Softcomp now consists of 39 research groups in 35 different institutions spread over 12 European countries.

Please visit our website for more information or to subscribe to our email newsletter: Or get connected with us on Twitter: @SoftCompNetwork, and LinkedIn: SoftComp Consortium.
Archive of all SoftComp newsletters (electronic and print): Newsletters


Dr. Flavio Carsughi
SoftComp Project Manager
Forschungszentrum Jülich
JCNS Outstation
Lichtenbergstrasse 1
85748 Garching
Phone: + 49 89 289-10703
Fax: + 49 89 289-10799
Angela Wenzik
SoftComp Newsletter Editor
Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH
52425 Jülich
Phone: +49 2461 61-6048
Fax: +49 2461 61-2410