The science of soft materials is slowly moving into the direction of predictive capability. Yet, as functional flexibility and programmability usually relies on compositional heterogeneity, these materials are naturally rich of various types of interfaces - between different constituents and between domains - that are often structured themselves and generally pose a challenge to scientific investigation, owing to the variation of length and time scales that they feature along different dimensions. Since these interfaces link domains with distinctly different structural and/or physical - electronic, chemical and/or mechanical - characteristics, they are of utmost importance for material performance and function. This is particularly apparent in biology, where structured membranes facilitate both the important compartmentalisation and play the role of (co-)factors in several functional processes, including adhesion, signalling and/or transport. Advanced materials design aimed at a more sustainable use of natural resources and improved health care therefore relies to a great extent on obtaining a fundamental understanding of the role of soft structured interfaces in the desired function.
This Lorentz workshop will bring together max 55 experts in soft matter research, from both the theoretical/computational (50%) and experimental community (50%), to discuss peculiarities and commonalities in interfacial phenomena and explore recent advances in the theoretical/computational/experimental study of soft structured interfaces. An important goal of this workshop is to provide time and a stimulating atmosphere to explore and discuss new collaborations. To ensure focus, all participants are invited to fill the attached questionary and share their views about topics of personal/general interest related to the selected application systems:
1) nanoporous polymer-based membranes for gas separation and water filtration,
2) soft polymeric matrices and fuel cell membranes in photovoltaic cells for efficient solar-to-energy conversion,
3) block copolymer films and nano-composites for nano-lithography, and
4) novel therapeutics and diagnostics, based on efficient transport across or disruption of cellular membranes by drugs and other chemicals, and safe-by-design strategies
During the preparation phase, the combined views will be used to further narrow down the theme, define focus sessions and select speakers.