Soft materials at surfaces and interfaces
The main focus of our research group is soft-materials at surfaces and interfaces. The physics of soft materials is distinct from hard matter as the weaker intermolecular bonds result in a large response to external stresses. We study mainly polymeric materials, but also biomaterials like DNA molecules and living cells. Polymers are ubiquitous in their use, from basic plastic components and packaging materials, to biomaterials and display technologies. Understanding the material properties at a fundamental level, is crucial to the development of new technologies. One surprising aspect of these materials is that on the nano-scale, like thin films or coatings, they can have properties that differ vastly from those of bulk systems. Specifically, thin film properties differ from the bulk for several reasons: for a given volume of material there is much more surface or interface in these systems when compared to the bulk, but also the large macromolecules become confined.
Specific areas of current research are: cell adhesion at polymer interfaces, mechanical properties of C. elegans (worms), DNA confinement, polymer crystallinity, polymer entanglement, polymers at surfaces and interfaces, confinement effects in thin polymer films, pattern formation and self-assembly, phase-separation, glass transition, laser patterning, fluid instabilities.
Dear Prospective Graduate Student,
Currently there are graduate student positions available in my group. In our opinion the field of Soft-Condensed Matter physics and, more specifically, topics related to polymeric and biological systems at surfaces and interfaces are very exciting. Please take the time to explore our research web page in order to find out more about the scientific questions that fascinate us.
There are a variety of projects available to graduate students which span from very fundamental science, to projects which are potentially relevant to industry and technology. Some projects allow the student to design and build new tools and equipment while other projects use instruments that are already available in the lab.
My approach to supervising does vary from student to student depending on their needs. In general, however, I start each student with a well-defined project which has some clear goals. Due to my own experiences, I am convinced that a playful attitude towards the lab is the best way to discover new and interesting scientific questions. So, while the original project is typically fairly specific and focussed, I fully encourage my students to explore new avenues of research, as they arise.
The research atmosphere is very intensive and my expectations are high. This is the only way to ensure that students can maximise their potential, and that we accomplish the goals of the research group. I ensure that as a student in my group you will have the opportunity to take part in research that is truly innovative. You will also have the opportunity to present your work at international conferences such as the American Physical Society’s March Meeting. These experiences will not only build the reputation of the group as a whole, but also your own reputation and training as a young scientist.
If you are interested in working in my research group, please contact me to discuss the possibilities.