Growth of Hierarchical Functional Materials in Complex Fluids

Date :From 2011-07-05 To 2011-08-05
Advisory committee :
Local coordinators :Wen-Bing Hu(Contact person),Yu-Qiang Ma, Feng Qiu, Yan-Ting Wang, Hai-Jun Zhou
International coordinators :Stephen Z. D. Cheng, Daan Frenkel, Murugappan Muthukumar, Zhong-Can Ou-Yang, Günter Reiter(Chair), An-Chang Shi, Qi Xue, Kenichi Yoshikawa

Hierarchical materials are complex structures composed of different components organized at different length scales. In Nature, typically hierarchical materials are utilized to achieve extraordinary physicochemical properties and functionalities, as seen in wood, bone, nacre, and silk. This type of materials is often formed from complex growth processes under non-equilibrium conditions. The non-equilibrium nature of such growth processes provides opportunities to create a multitude of different stable and metastable structures even within a single macromolecule. From this perspective, macromolecules represent a versatile paradigm for the study of complex growth processes where a subtle balance between various physicochemical processes determines the resulting morphologies and functional patterns. For the creation of novel materials with outstanding properties and functions, several fundamental physical processes are relevant for controlling and directing organisation of macromolecules, colloids and inorganic particles. A multitude of questions listed below and even more are yet to be solved. Answers to these open questions represent central milestones in the formation of functional materials from complex systems. 

  • Guiding the formation of ordered complexes in solutions and melts.

Pattern formation in mixed solutions or blends can be guided by macromolecules. Examples are polymer controlled precipitation and co-crystallisation, in which the nucleation, growth kinetics, morphogenesis, relative stability of crystal phases and their supra-molecular assemblies depend sensitively on the selective polymer/additive adsorption. The rational design and control of complex formation and growth processes of polymeric materials and macromolecular organic/inorganic hybrid materials are not yet well understood.

  • Ordering under the influence of external fields
    External fields (mechanical, electric, etc) can affect greatly the ordering and morphology in complex fluid systems. Understanding the complex interplay between the various types of external fields and molecular features presents a challenge to theoretical physicists.
  • Confinement effects
    Many hierarchical materials are formed in confined spaces through template-controlled growth and aggregation, such as those found in shells, enamels or bones. Growth in restricted geometries can lead to ordered materials exhibiting unique properties. Theoretical study of confined growth and self-assembly has been an active research area in recent years.

The aim of the programme on growth processes in complex fluid systems is to get a better understanding on how physicochemical processes govern the growth and organisation of macromolecules, colloids and inorganic particles, and to develop strategies to control these processes for the creation of innovative functional materials with unique properties. Specific topics include, but are not restricted to, the investigation of growth processes and pathways for structure formation in complex fluid systems; the acquisition of design rules and synthetic routes for growing functional structures; and the development of concepts and theoretical models for non-equilibrium growth processes. 

The proposed programme will be organized under two complementary themes:

  • Theme 1:  Novel pathways for formation of hierarchical structures in complex fluids, July 5 to July 26,2011
  • Theme 2:  New concepts in understanding of growth processes of hierarchical structures in macromolecular systems, July 15 to August 5, 2011.                                

    The major program activities include seminars and summer schools which focus on two complementary goals:

  • Exchange of expertise and knowledge, promotion of collaborations, and stimulation for young scientists toward pioneers.
  • Outreach activities to raise awareness on the importance of growth processes in complex fluid systems and to provide information across the boundaries of scientific disciplines.