3D functional surfaces patterned by frontal photopolymerisation

Designing, synthesising, assembling, characterising and modelling soft materials for applications ranging from healthcare to energy

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Theme overview and objectives

Our research is centred on designing and engineering soft and nanomaterials to meet current and emerging societal needs. We precisely synthesise, formulate, assemble, process and analyse materials from the molecular to continuum-scales to derive new insights into the thermodynamics and non-equilibrium processes that underpin the behaviour of complex systems. The applications of our work are extensive, ranging from industrial formulations and coatings to energy harvesting, pharmaceutics, and molecular separations.

Methods and capabilities

We combine multiple approaches to precisely assemble and resolve the structure and dynamics of soft matter, from atomic to macroscopic scales, in particular under external fields. We employ extensively scattering of light, X-rays and neutrons, microscopy, spectroscopy and imaging, as well as thermodynamic and rheological approaches, but also develop our own measurement tools, based on advanced spectroscopy, micro and acousto-fluidics, rheology and interfacial science, often resorting to combinatorial and high-throughput mapping of large parameter spaces. Theory and simulation across length and timescales provides us with inspiration and guidance for soft matter engineering. 

Highlights

A unified approach to patterning via frontal photopolymerization (FPP)

A unified approach to patterning via frontal photopolymerization (FPP). Advanced Materials 2015 doi: 10.1002/adma.201502607 Find out more

Soft Matter 48 cover
Modelling the superspreading of surfactant-laden droplets with computer simulation. Soft Matter 2015 doi: 10.1039/C5SM02090E. Featured on the cover of Soft Matter (Issue 48: 28 December 2015). Read the paper

Spontaneous pattern formation on a droplet surface induced by demixing and osmotic extraction
Spontaneous pattern formation on a droplet surface induced by demixing and osmotic extraction. References: Langmuir 32, 8131–8140, (2016) and Langmuir 30, 2470-2479 (2014).

nanoscale patterning of C60 fullerenes within a polymer matrix, towards functional electronic materials and solar cells
Nanoscale patterning of C60 fullerenes within a polymer matrix, towards functional electronic materials and solar cells. References: Nat. Comms. 4, 2227 (2013), Adv. Mater. 25, 985-991 (2013) and ACS Nano 8, 1297-1308 (2014).

Flow processing of concentrated lamellar system tuning spatial arrangement and rheology
Flow processing of concentrated lamellar system tuning spatial arrangement and rheology. References: Langmuir 32 (23), 5852–5861 (2016)Soft Matter 12, 1750-1758 (2016) and Sci. Rep. 5, 7727 (2015).

Directed assembly and crystallisation of PCBM / PCDTBT solar cells.
Directed assembly and crystallisation of PCBM / PCDTBT solar cells. References: Scientific Reports 5, 15149 (2015) and J. Mater. Chem. C 3, 9551-9558 (2015).

Highlight videos

Capsule formation during solvent extraction

Video depicting the mechanism and kinetics of solvent extraction of 1.0 wt % Sodium poly(styrenesulfonate) (NaPSS)/H2O in neat  methyl ethyl ketone (MEK)on a time scale of 80 s. Read the paper in Langmuir (Udoh et al. Langmuir 2016, 32, 8131−8140).

Capsule formation during solvent extraction

Capsule formation during solvent extraction

Capsule formation during solvent extraction and phase inversion

Video depicting the mechanism and kinetics of solvent extraction of 1.0 wt % Sodium poly(styrenesulfonate) (NaPSS)/H2O in neat  methyl ethyl ketone (MEK)on a time scale of 80 s. Read the paper in Langmuir (Udoh et al. Langmuir 2016, 32, 8131−8140).

Ultrasound-triggered release of particles from bubbles

Ultrasound-triggered release of particles from bubbles

Ultrasound-triggered release of particles from the surface of bubbles

Capillary waves excited by microbubbles

Capillary waves excited by microbubbles

High-frequency capillary waves excited by oscillating microbubbles

This fluid dynamics video shows high-frequency capillary waves excited by the volumetric oscillations of microbubbles near a free surface. The frequency of the capillary waves is controlled by the oscillation frequency of the microbubbles, which are driven by an ultrasound field. Radial capillary waves produced by single bubbles and interference patterns generated by the superposition of capillary waves from multiple bubbles are shown. The video is an entry for the 2013 APS-DFD Gallery of Fluid Motion. Article available at http://arxiv.org/abs/1310.3501