The science bits

Dipolar Soft Matter

Summary of Sofia’s START project

“Bridging the Scales in Dipolar Soft Matter”

In the present project we would focus on the dipolar systems. These dipoles can have absolutely different nature: from polar molecules, and accidentally formed charge pairs in ionic liquids to dipoles created by ferromagnetic ordering of spins in the crystalline lattice and many others. The systems we would deal with in this Project are the following: Electric Dipoles (Ultra-Cold Polar Molecules, Ionic Liquids); Magnetic Dipoles (Magnetic Fluids, Magnetic Gels, Micron-sized Anisotropic Magnetic Particles, namely, Capped Colloids, Magnetic Janus Particles, Magnetic Rods, Ellipsoids and Cubes). The Project is based on a fine weave of statistical physics and different computer simulation techniques. The verification of the results and adjustments of the theoretical models will be done in the close collaboration with various experimental groups. The main idea of the project is that independently on the size of the dipolar “building blocks”, all these systems are fundamentally similar, and, in general terms, theoretical approaches and simulation tools once developed when studying one of those systems, can turn out to be applicable to describe dipolar systems with absolutely different characteristic lengths. Thus, the principal aim of the project is to broaden the understanding of dipolar soft matter at different scales by extending and generalising the existing theoretical and simulation methods and developing novel approaches. Being theoretical, the Project will be executed in the cooperation with experimentalists to both verify newly developed theories and assist in designing new smart soft dipolar materials on various scales. During the first three years we will mainly focus on the detailed analysis of microstructure of the aforementioned systems, and the last three years will be dedicated to the description of the mechanical, rheological and other macroproperties of the materials. This split allows us to unite the methods and approaches, thus following the main idea of the Project, namely bridging the scales in dipolar soft matter. Of course, we will also find new ideas and/or materials during this period, which can attract our interests and nicely complement the content. We will be also able to investigate the relationship between the microstructure and the macroscopic behaviour of dipolar systems. Formally, this project will lead to accomplishing 2 PhD thesis, 3-4 post-doctoral projects, 4-5 diploma thesis, one habilitation (of the applicant), and more than 20 peer-reviewed papers. The Project will also enhance the existing collaboration and establish new one between the host and various institutions in Austria, Europe and Russia. For the applicant this Project will mean the possibility of research career development in Austria, opening new perspectives for the future Professorship.

This Project is aimed at summarising the experience and developing new approaches for describing dipolar systems in different branches of physics, chemistry, bio-physics, and we believe it will open new perspectives both for fundamental research and development of new materials.

This project is funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF.
Y627 START-Programm