Soft matter materials
Debora Berti and Pierandrea Lo Nostro
6 ECTS: 48 hours of lectures
Aims: This course will focus on the theoretical understanding of the physical chemistry of soft condensed matter, from the interactions at the nanoscale to soft materials dynamics and stability on the macro scale. The student is expected to understand the phase behavior, stability and main properties of soft matter. Recognize everyday examples of soft matter systems and use concepts learnt in the course to understand the behavior of such systems. Obtain the main theoretical guidelines and the most important perspectives into practical applications where soft materials are relevant. The properties of nanomaterials will be presented and discussed in relation to some biological complex systems. For example: the Lotus effect, the shark skin and the nanostructure of some outer biological surfaces in relation to interfacial properties, contact angle, wettability, detergency and biofouling prevention. Natural gel-like materials and the local controlled delivery of drugs. The special rheology of some natural fluids and the behavior of some daily life products.
All topics are necessarily multidisciplinary and will include many examples of everyday phenomena and will be of interest to chemists, engineers and biologists as well as physics students.
The course will include guided self-study, lectures given by the course teacher and by invited international experts, final oral exam.
Lectures: After a preliminary short theoretical introduction to the concepts related to surfactants, self-assembly and nanoparticles, the outline of the course is intended to present and focus on some advanced major topics, such as:
* Material properties of gases, liquids and solids; ionic and intermolecular interactions
* Phase transitions and phase diagrams
* Viscous, elastic and viscoelastic behaviour of materials
* Polymeric materials: structure, properties, miscibility and mixing parameters, glass transition
* Self-assembly of simple molecules: from nano- to supramolecular structures.
* Soft matter materials from biological polymers or biologically inspired
* Chemical and physical gels, their properties and swelling behavior.
* Stimuli responsiveness of gels for different applications.