(3dw) Soft Matter, Interfaces and Complex Fluids: Optics, Dynamics, Elasticity and Self-Assembly (ODES) | AIChE

(3dw) Soft Matter, Interfaces and Complex Fluids: Optics, Dynamics, Elasticity and Self-Assembly (ODES)


Sharma, V. - Presenter, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Polymers, colloids, surfactants, liquid crystals and gels are all termed as complex fluids or soft materials, for they respond to stress like semi-solids or squishy materials. A combination of spring-like elasticity and ability to flow makes their behavior viscoelastic. Their ability to flow is itself distinguished by behavior unlike that of common liquids or gases: the complexity comes from their time dependent, or stress dependent behavior. A large fraction of the industrial and biological materials exist or are processed in form of multicomponent, microstructured fluids, and the ultimate function and use of these materials is dependent on their structure and properties. The relation of the optics, structure and dynamics of complex fluids to order and entropy, thermodynamics and kinetics of phase transitions, elasticity and self-assembly is of both scientific and technological interest.

My goal is to establish a research program to develop multicomponent, multifunctional materials incorporating colloids, polymers and liquid crystals for use in applications ranging from fluids for inkjet printing and spraying applications to the understanding of multicomponent biological fluids. By understanding and using design principles observed in nature (like in iridescent beetles and in butterflies), we will develop materials that combine structural integrity and robustness with the required optical functionality (light reflection, transmission) for harvesting solar energy. While the understanding of dynamics and principles of self-assembly is crucial for developing practically useful processing methods for materials used in photovoltaic applications, the knowledge of interaction of light with matter is essential not only for observing changes in microstructure during flow, but also for use of materials in optical or photonic devices.