Research Statement
In our research group colloidal suspensions, where particles on the order of 1 mm (the colloids) are dispersed in a solvent, are studied. Colloidal systems are highly interesting and relevant, as they find numerous applications in several industrial branches such as coatings, food, cosmetics but also in more technical applications as photonic crystals and data storage devices. In addition, colloids are widely accepted as a versatile model system for atoms and molecules as their phase behaviour is analogous to that of atomic and molecular systems; they display rich phase behaviour involving colloidal ‘crystal’, ‘liquid’ and ‘gas’ phases. The typical colloidal length and time scales, i.e. micrometers and seconds, make it possible to directly observe colloidal particles in real-space and real-time using video- and/or confocal microscopy. Advanced colloid chemistry techniques are available to tune the chemical and physical properties of the particles or even to develop completely new and unique colloidal model systems. In addition, colloidal systems are easily deformed and manipulated using external fields such as optical laser tweezers.
Research Topics
  • Synthesis and characterisation of colloidal model systems
  • Grain boundaries in colloidal crystals
  • Jamming and and crystallisation in frustrated systems
  • Optical tweezers in colloidal systems
  • Dynamics in confinement
  • Magneto-rheological fluids

The lab is equipped with an IR optical laser tweezer (1064 nm), which is created using an acousto-optical-deflection (AOD) system combined with an IR laser beam (Coherent , 1064 nm). The laser is guided into a custom built optical microscope for video microscopy. External magnetic coils can be added to the setup to generate homogeneous magnetic fields. We also have two new Olympus inverted optical microscopes, with fluorescence, polarisation and phase contrast options as well as a static and dynamic light scattering apparatus (ALV-CG3). In addition, we have access to the facilities of the Aarts group: a state-of-the-art laser scanning confocal microscope: the Zeiss Exciter and soft-lithography to make microfluidic devices.