Functional soft matter physics

Soft materials such as polymer gels and melts, polyelectrolyte solutions, foams or lipid vesicles are systems that present characteristics common to liquids and solids, depending on the scale of observation. They belong to a class of systems called “Complex Fluids”. Such ambivalence is a direct consequence of the presence of structures at scales which are larger than the molecules that constitute the system but smaller than macroscopic objects. These so-called “mesoscopic” structures are usually formed through the competition between two opposite interactions such as affinity and repulsion-like interactions in block copolymers or hydrophobic and repulsive electrostatic interactions in polyelectrolyte gels and surfactant self-assemblies. Tuning these interactions allows one to control the morphology of mesoscopic structures and therefore the dynamical response of the system.

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