We are interested in the mechanical behavior of structured materials. In particular, we aim to understand how microstructure and interparticle forces combine to generate the surprising solid/fluid dynamics in for example soft particle packings, suspensions, granulates and other athermal particulate systems. To gain insight in these microscopic features, we develop new experimental tools such as macroscopic three dimensional microscopy, photo-elastic stress imaging and novel rheological methods. In addition, we combine 3D printing, video microscopy and other experimental techniques to explore the mechanics of soft friction and the flow behavior of active matter.
The Wageningen Soft Matter group works on a range of diverse topics, in which macromolecules generally play an important role. Specific topics include: foams, emulsion and ionic liquids; dense particle systems; biomimetic materials; molecular modelling; proteins and engineered protein polymers; self-assembly of micelles, membranes and vesicles; hydrogels. We aim at analysing soft materials from a physics point of view and manipulating them using chemical tools and expertise.
We study concentrated colloidal dispersions subjected to external fields such as gravity, an electric field, or a shear flow. This way we can manipulate the particles to assemble into new structures, to undergo (non-equilibrium) phase transitions, or to form patterns. The 3-dimensional structure and dynamics are studied mainly using confocal microscopy, but also with scattering techniques and rheology. For these experiments new colloidal particles with anisotropic shapes or interactions or with a composite core-shell structure are also developed.
We investigate the physical mechanisms that govern the self-organization and (active) mechanical properties of living cells. We focus mainly on the physics of cytoskeletal polymers, active matter, and cellular mechanosensing. Key technologies in our lab are advanced microscopy, optical tweezer manipulation, optical microrheology, and rheology. Ultimately we aim to learn biological design principles to design new biomimetic materials.
Our research focuses on i) nanofluidics, ii) (electro)wetting and microfluidics and iii) rheology of complex fluids. Micro- to millimeter sized droplets are modified via external fields and/or adsorption. Colloidal particles are used as tracers for convection or diffusion (microrheology) and studied for their interactions with solid or liquid interfaces. Aim is to gain fundamental understanding, and perspective for applications.
We investigate soft condensed matter at the micron scale - crystallization and phase separations, solid and liquid-like behavior, elastic and plastic properties. Using three-dimensional microscopic imaging and light scattering we bridge length scales from the particle scale to macroscopic lengths, thereby linking the microscopic behavior of these materials to their macroscopic properties.
We study and develop new responsive colloidal and polymeric systems. A major aim is to identify the mechanisms for catastrophic macroscopic phenomena such as fracture, melting and phase inversion at which microscopic structures, stresses and thermal fluctuations all become of significance. We also work on manipulating this interplay at the microscopic level to create new materials with enhanced functionality.
We are a theory group, focused on predictive modeling of the mechanical properties of soft, mostly biological, materials: Biopolymers, lipid bilayer membranes, biological and biomimetic network materials. We use analytical theory, Monte Carlo and MD simulations to better understand the relation between microscopic properties, spatial organization and, ultimately, macroscopic response.
We study the mechanics of soft condensed matter using a combination of theoretical and numerical tools. Our focus is on the description, prediction, and control of constitutive relations in emulsions, foams, granulates, and other disordered materials with a rigidity transition.
We study the mechanics of granular materials and fluids, with a particular focus on those situations in which they interact with each other. Think for instance of the impact of a raindrop on sand, or the behavior of a very dense granular suspension. We strive to employ a combination of experiments, analysis and numerical techniques to attain to a profound understanding of the physics behind these systems.
We use and develop experimental tools to study the structure, dynamics and rheology of soft materials, thereby revealing the physical mechanisms that govern their behavior. Current topics include the mechanics of cells and soft microgel particle systems, the use of microfluidics to control and study soft matter, colloids with anisotropic interactions, and the development of new mechanical probes.