Soft matter under confinement

Soft matter under confinement is a growing, interdisciplinary research field with yet unknown basic principles and many similarities with the biological world. Nanoporous hard templates provide a two-dimensionally confined space in which self-organization processes such as crystallization, protein secondary structure formation, mesophase formation and phase separation can be manipulated giving rise to unprecedented confinement-induced morphologies with new and exciting properties. A principal focus of the work is finding the basic underlying principles that give rise to directed self-organization and controlled phase state in a range of soft materials under confinement. This ambitious but realistic approach requires a methodology that includes the synthesis of the hard templates as well as structural, thermodynamic and dynamical characterization in a number of soft materials with different types of interactions. These include crystallizable polymers, amphiphilic molecules, liquid crystals and biopolymers with important potential applications. It further requires the implementation of different but complementary techniques with high spatial and temporal resolution, operating over broad space and time scales. The first results include understanding the role of confinement on the type of nucleation and overall crystallinity (polymeric nanofibers with tunable mechanical, electrical and optical properties), the stability of liquid crystal phases (liquid crystal display industry) and the design of membranes based on the functionality of biopolymers located in nanopores. In addition, we investigate the effect of confinement on ice nucleation within nanopores of self-ordered aloumina.

Collaborators: H. Duran (TOBB, Ankara), M. Steinhart (Univ. Osnabrueck), H.-J. Butt (MPI-P)

Recent publications (2011-2016)

[1] H. Duran, M. Steinhart, H.-J. Butt, G. Floudas, 

“From heterogeneous to homogeneous nucleation of isotactic poly(propylene) confined to nanoporous Alumina”, 

Nano Letters 11,1671, 2011.

[2] C. Grigoriadis, H. Duran, M. Steinhart, M. Kappl, H.-J. Butt, G. Floudas, 

“Suppression of phase transitions in a confined liquid crystal”, 

ACS Nano 11, 9208, 2011.

[3] H. Duran, B. Hartmann-Azanza, M. Steinhart, D. Gehrig, F. Laquai, X. Feng,  K. Müllen,  H.-J. Butt and G. Floudas, 

“Arrays of Aligned Supramolecular Wires by Macroscopic Orientation of Columnar-Discotic Mesophases”, 

ACS Nano 6, 9359, 2012.

[4] Y. Suzuki, H. Duran, M. Steinhart, H.-J. Butt  and G. Floudas, 

“Homogeneous crystallization and local dynamics of poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) confined  to nanoporous alumina”,

 Soft Matter  9, 2769, 2013.

[5] Y. Suzuki, H. Duran, W. Akram, M. Steinhart, G. Floudas and H.-J. Butt, 

“Multiple nucleation events and local dynamics of poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) confined to nanoporous alumina”, 

Soft Matter 9, 9189, 2013.

[6] Y. Suzuki, H. Duran, M. Steinhart, H.-J. Butt and G. Floudas

“Suppression of poly(ethylene oxide) crystallization in diblock copolymers of poly(ethylene oxide)-b-poly(ε-caprolactone) confined to nanoporous alumina”

Macromolecules 47, 1793, 2014.

[7] S. Alexandris, G. Sakellariou, M. Steinhart, G. Floudas

“Dynamics of unentangled cis-1,4-Polyisoprene Confined to Nanoporous Alumina”

Macromolecules  47, 3895, 2014.

[8] Y. Suzuki, H. Duran, M. Steinhart, M. Kappl, H.-J. Butt and G. Floudas

“Homogeneous nucleation in predominantly cubic ice confined in nanoporous aloumina”

Nano Lett. 15, 1987-1992, 2015.

[9] Y. Suzuki, M. Steinhart, H.-J. Butt, G. Floudas

“Kinetics of ice nucleation confined in nanoporous alumina”

J. Phys. Chem. B 119, 11960-11966, 2015.

[10] Y. Suzuki, M. Steinhart, R. Graf, H.-J. Butt, G. Floudas

“Dynamics of Ice/Water Confined in Nanoporous Alumina”

J. Phys. Chem. B  119, 14814-14820, 2015.