Research Strategy and Concept
Fluid interfaces are present in various different soft matter materials where they dominate both microscopic and macroscopic properties and their functions. Increasing our level of understanding on the physical chemistry of fluid interfaces is, therefore, of great importance not only for molecular self-assembly, bio-macromolecules at interfaces, colloid science, and catalysis, but also in soft nanoscience. In addition to a basic understanding of the physics and chemistry at fluid interfaces there is great potential to use that knowledge in order to tune or to design new interface-controlled and hierarchical soft matter materials such as foams and emulsions with new properties like adaptive or responsive functions.
Prerequisite to master this challenge is to identify molecular building blocks such as simple surfactants but also macromolecules and their aggregates at liquid interfaces, which determine properties on larger length scales.
In our group, we use surface specific nonlinear optical spectroscopy such as sum-frequency generation (SFG) and second-harmonic scattering (SHS) orthogonal to existing soft matter research topics. In addition, we combine the results from SFG and SHS with complementary methods such as tensiometry (pendent drop), surface dilatational rheology (oscillating drop) and disjoining pres-sure isotherms using a thin-film pressure balance. From previous and current research of the group, three focal topics for research in the next years can be identified:
- Development of experimental methods for interface spectroscopy
- Adsorption, ion specific effects and structure property-relation in soft matter
- Responsive interfaces and soft matter that react to light and temperature stimuli (Equilibrium vs Nonequilibrium properties, local vs global changes)
- Electrode/Electrolyte Interfaces