Orchestrating large colloids with small molecules
Colloids are indispensible building blocks of functional materials. A key challenge in the field of colloidal science is to achieve full control over particle interactions to modulate assembly pathways and precisely direct the microstructure and properties of the final material. We develop new approaches to guide colloidal assembly by external cues such as temperature and light.
- Supramolecular colloids
By surpassing Abbe’s diffraction limit, super-resolution microscopy (SRM) has opened the door to the visualization and the understanding of complex structures in the 1-100 nm range. SRM combines typical features of optical microscopy (low invasiveness, high penetration depth, high sensitivity, chemical specificity, straightforward sample preparation) with nanometer spatial resolution. Despite its widespread in cell-biology and bio-physics, SRM is still in its infancy for in-depth visualization of mesoscale features in man-made materials. At the VoetsLab, we use SRM techniques such as PAINT (point accumulation for imaging in nanoscale topography), PALM (photo-activatable localization microscopy) and STORM (stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy) to visualize in-situ structural composition, stability, exchange dynamics and growth direction of self-assembled architectures ranging from one-dimensional fibers to multi-dimensional colloids. By doing so, we aim for a more rational and sophisticated design of man-made materials starting from the understanding of their structure/function interplay.
- Biomimetic colloidal materials
- Responsive Pickering emulsions
- Anisotropic colloids
- Polyurethane dispersions