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Soft Matter and Interfaces

Research concerns a diverse range of soft structures with dimensions ranging from the nano-to macroscale.

Research in the Soft Matter, Surfaces and Interfaces group concerns a diverse range of soft structures with dimensions ranging from the nano- to macroscale. A key aspect of the research is the preparation of well-defined molecules, materials, dispersions and surfaces, which leads to desired function. Modern synthetic methods are used to achieve such control and materials prepared are investigated using a suite of analytical methods, including surface spectroscopies, scanning probe and electron microscopies. Research on the fundamental physical chemistry of interfaces includes crystal nucleation, surface freezing, adsorption kinetics and ultrafast electron dynamics.

In parallel to this, advanced computer simulation methods are used to model soft materials, and new theories developed to describe and predict both structure and material properties. Advanced experimental techniques, in particular neutron and X-ray scattering and ion beam analysis (the latter is unique in a UK Chemistry Department), are used to verify the predictions.

The group is heavily engaged with the user community, through the Durham Centre for Soft Matter, Polymer IRC and spin-out companies, and has an excellent track record for commercializing its research when appropriate.

The leader of the Soft Matter & Interfaces Grouping is Dr Mark Miller.

Hover over the image to display the researchers name, click on the image to go to the staff page.
Hover over the image to display the researchers name, click on the image to go to the staff page.

Examples of current projects

  • Lian Hutchings and Tom McLeish "Dynamics of Architecturally Complex Polymers - DYNACOP"
  • Colin Bain and Lian Hutchings "Optical Manipulation of Emulsions for Microfabrication and Nanofluidics"
  • Sharon Cooper "Crystallization: The Future is Controllable"
  • Richard Thompson and Lian Hutchings "Polyester Surface Modification" with DuPont Teijin Films.
  • Ritu Kataky "Soft biocompatible liposomal gels: sensing and therapeutics"
  • Mark Wilson and Tom McLeish "New Multiscale Tools for Protein Physics: Thermal Protein Dynamics in Signalling and Allostery"

Recent Publications

  1. Design strategies for self-assembly of discrete targets; J. Madge and M. A. Miller, J. Chem. Phys. (2015), 143 044905
  2. Percolation in suspensions of hard nanoparticles: From spheres to needles;T. Schilling, M. A. Miller and P. van der Schoot, Europhys. Lett. (2015), 111 56004
  3. Nanographite Synthesized from Acidified Sucrose Microemulsions under Ambient Conditions; N. J. Hargreaves, S. J. Cooper Cryst. Growth Des. (2016), 16, 3133-3142.
  4. Nonclassical Crystallization of Dipicolinic Acid in Microemulsions; Chen, C. E. Nicholson, H. E. Ramsey, S. J. Cooper Cryst. Growth Des., (2015), 15, 1060–106.
  5. Simulation insights into the role of antiparallel molecular association in the formation of smectic A phases ; Soft Matter (2016) 12, 8876 - 8883 , M. Walker, M.R. Wilson, DOI:10.1039/C6SM01920J
  6. Formation of complex self-assembled aggregates in non-ionic chromonics: dimer and trimer columns, layer structures and spontaneous chirality; Soft Matter (2016) 12, 8588-8594,DOI: 10.1039/C6SM01669C
  7. Pharmaceutical polymorph control in a drug-mimetic supramolecular gel; Foster, J. A.; Damodaran, K. K.; Maurin, A.; Day, G. M.; Thompson, H. P. G.; Cameron, G. J.; Bernal, J. C.; Steed, J. W, Chem. Sci.(2017). DOI: 10.1039/C6SC04126D.
  8. Elasticity Dominated Surface Segregation of Small Molecules in Polymer Mixtures; K, Jarosław, S.Croce, T. C. B. McLeish, and B. Chakrabarti, Phys. Rev. Lett., (2016),116, 208301
  9. Dynamic Transmission of Protein Allostery without Structural Change: Spatial Pathways or Global Modes? ; T.C.B. McLeish, M.J. Cann and T.L. Rogers , Biophys. J. (2015), 109, 1240–1250
  10. Sticking and sliding of lipid bilayers on deformable substrates; L Stubbington, M. Arroyo, & M. Staykova, Soft Matter, DOI 10.1039/C6SM00786D
  11. Emulsification at the liquid-liquid interfaces: effects of potential, electrolytes and surfactants; M.Chowdhury and R. Kataky, ChemPhysChem, (2016), 17, 105-111.
  12. Graphene oxide nanocapsules within silanized hydrogels suitable for electrochemical pseudocapacitors, R. Kataky et al, Chem. Commun., (2015), 51, 1034.1036.
  13. Pharmaceutical Polymorph Control in a Drug-Mimetic Supramolecular Gel, J. A. Foster, K. K. Damodaran, A. Maurin, G. M. Day, H. P. G. Thompson, G. J. Cameron, J. Cuestra and J. W. Steed*, Chem. Sci., 2017, 8, 78–84. (Front Cover).
  14. Metal ‘Turn-off’, Anion ‘Turn-On’ Gelation Cascade in Pyridinylmethyl Ureas, C. A. Offiler, C. D. Jones and J. W. Steed*, Chem. Commun., 2017, 53, 2024–2027