Soft Matter Lab

  • subjectSkills

    The research of the Soft Matter Lab is set in the general framework of the application of optical and microfluidic techniques to the investigation of materials science and is specifically focused on the structural properties, the microscopic dynamics, and the phase behavior of complex fluids and soft matter such as colloidal dispersions and gels, polymer and bio-macromolecular solutions, spontaneous aggregates of amphiphilic molecules.

    What is arguably the most distinctive aspect of our activity is a well-established competence in the design and development of novel experimental methods such as

    • Opto-thermal excitation techniques of complex fluids and soft solids
    • Optical correlation methods combining the power of scattering techniques with the spatial resolution of microscope imaging
    • Instrumentation for particle velocimetry (PIV) based on methods of spatial correlation of images
  • subjectResearch activities

    Presently, our main research themes can be summarized as follows:

    • Microscopic dynamics and aging phenomena in physical gels, namely in colloidal or polymeric disordered solids whose crosslinks have a strength comparable to the thermal energy
    • Effects induced by “thermal forces” in complex fluids and soft solids, with a focus on thermophoresis (particle transport driven by thermal gradients) in strongly confined colloidal systems and to the thermo-osmosis of fluids through membranes of interest for fuel cells
    • Compressional rheology of “particle-loaded” gels by means of analytical centrifugation methods
    • Phase behaviour of colloidal systems and gel formation in microgravity conditions. In this framework we can mention the development in collaboration with ESA od optical instrumentation to be installed on the International Space Station by 2022, and the investigation we made of colloidal gels made in the NASA ACE-T10 mission
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