Hierarchy (in soft matter) refers to a system that contains an arrangement of multi-layered structures.
These multi-layered structures can be designed at the nano, micro, and macro levels. The fundamental building blocks of responsive materials often consist of molecules that experience a change in conformation upon some kind of environmental stimulus. These changes lead to microscopic changes in the way the colloidal particles interact with one another. Eventually, they result in some kind of macroscopic response. Time is also a tuning parameter – many self-assembly processes are dynamic and not in equilibrium.
The continuous manufacturing of these types of materials remains a challenge due to their complex flow properties. Our group aims to systematically investigate the processing of non-Newtonian precursor materials, such as the polymers used to create hydrogel structures, using a variety of fluidic devices at the lab scale.
Personnel: Daniel Cardenas