We study four related, and overlapping subthemes:
Assembly of colloids and polymers
Here the goal is to understand the self- and co-assembly of complex molecules (such as surfactants, colloid and/or polymers). Applications involve the controlled encapsulation of compounds that need protection and/or need to be released at a desired rate.
Polymers & colloids at surfaces
This theme concerns the modification and functionalization of surfaces. This involves both the development of advanced (modified) surfaces for anti-(bio)fouling, controlled absorption/release and specific (bio)adhesion using tuned chemistry and topography as well as modifying surfaces to understand anti-icing, wettability, swelling, oil/water interaction(s). This work could lead to the development of new coatings and to understand the functionality of anti-freezing substances.
Stability and dynamics of colloid-polymer mixtures
We develop a better understanding of the phase stability and dynamics in complex mixtures of colloids and polymers and bringing the knowledge towards mixtures in which the particles have realistic interactions (such as charges, soft repulsions). Applications involve understanding dynamics and phase stability of complex mixtures such as food and (drying) paint.
Polymer Chemistry & Functional Properties
This research theme encompasses two main research lines:
1) synthesis and characterization of sustainable polymers, combining monomers from biomass with the development of benign polymerization technologies;
2) preparation of controlled polymer structures for application in colloidal and functional polymer systems.
As experimental methods we use X-ray, neutron and light scattering, electron, confocal and light microscopy, polymer and colloid synthesis, rheology, interfacial methods (surface tensiometry), melt and solution polymerization, solid-state modification, SEC, HPLC, MALDI-ToF-MS, NMR, FT-IR, TGA, DSC and DMTA. Theoretical methods we use are mean-field computational methods for the phase behaviour and structural thermodynamic interfacial and bulk properties, liquid state theory, hydrodynamics and dissipative particle dynamics (DPD) simulations. Further we like to collaborate with groups that can do soft matter computer simulations (Monte Carlo, Molecular Dynamics, Brownian Dynamics).