NA 1: Colloidal Composites, Gels & Glasses
The many industrially and biologically important colloidal systems are almost always present in composite form, like in foods, paints, crude oil, the content of living cells and blood. The many as yet undiscovered phenomena in these complex systems may play a role in improving existing technologies and in the development of entirely new technologies. Very recent experimental examples of such unexpected properties of colloid composites are the bizarre microstructural arrangement of colloidal spheres in lyotropic nematics of fd-virus suspensions and banded structure formation in mixtures of colloidal rods and polymers in shear flow.
A wide variety of soft materials have been found to undergo a liquid to solid transition under conditions of increasing density and/or reduced load (or reduced temperature). In an attempt to unify this type of behaviour a generic qualitative jamming phase diagram has been proposed, which aims at describing the different ways by which the ability of a system to flow is lost. This represents one of the foremost challenges in soft condensed matter physics as it relates to the unresolved problem of vitrification. At the same time, it has significant implications for a variety of applications ranging from the optimisation of processing conditions, the time stability of consumer products to the creation of smart mechanical and flow properties of soft materials by nanoscopic structuring as a function of external conditions.
The SoftComp Scientific Activity
Scientifically SoftComp covers a broad range of scientific activities with currently 39 groups from 33 institutions actively involved. Therefore it is impossible to describe all important results. Instead we present a few highlights in an exemplary way here.
Network Area Coordinators:
M. Cloitre, ESPCI, Paris, France, and J.Sprakel, Univ. Wageningen, The Netherlands