Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Chemical Physics Seminar
The Ugly, the Soft, and the Elastic: Short Stories on Particle Self-Assembly
Angelo Cacciuto, Assistant Professor of Physical Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, Columbia University
Understanding how nanocomponents spontaneously organize into complex macroscopic structures is one of the great challenges in the field of complex fluids today. The process of self-assembly is in fact relevant to several biological processes, such as protein aggregation and intracellular trafficking, and has numerous applications in materials science. The ability to predict and control the phase behavior of a solution given a set of nanocomponents may open the way to the development of materials with novel optical, mechanical, and electronic properties.
The main objective of our research is to establish rigorous links between the microscopic properties of nanocomponents and their ability to form ordered aggregates via the process of self-assembly. In this talk we discuss three specific cases: (1) The phase behavior of hard irregularly shaped particles, (2) the exotic crystal structures formed by ultra-soft nanoparticles, such as dendrimers and star-polymers, and (3) how elastic and deformable surfaces can be used to drive particle aggregation into anisotropic but regular structures. ]