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Functional Microgels and Microgel Systems

The SFB brings together research groups from polymer science, chemical engineering and life sciences and focuses on microgels as a group of highly functional macromolecules. Microgels combine openness with interactive responsiveness and thereby form a synthetic base for novel functionality. The SFB enables microgel research in a comprehensive approach, comprising the individual particle as well as the technical-scale production and formulation process. This will finally lead to new applications considering the microgel within the context of a complex interactive system. The comprehensive approach starts already within the individual research projects, all of which are supervised by two or more principal investigators with complementary expertise. The research projects are organized within four integrated research areas.
  • Microgels with new structures and/or functionalities will be developed in research area A. While some projects have already a target application in mind that requires new microgels to be designed by new synthetic routes, others will predominantly explore the limits of possible microgel functionalities.
  • Research area B is concerned with the quantitative understanding and modelling of microgel formation and properties as well as the design of reactors and separation units. It is based on the combination of experimental and modelling techniques in order to quantitatively describe microgel systems that are developed and used in project areas A and C, respectively.
  • Research area C is devoted to functional microgel systems for specific applications. It comprises projects in biotechnology, medicine and separation technology, respectively. On the one hand, the applications are based on microgels already available at RWTH Aachen; on the other hand, the projects define essential properties microgels must have in order to meet the requirements of the application.
  • The projects in research area G will develop experimental techniques that are of general relevance for the entire SFB: (i) visualization of microgels by electron microscopy in the frozen state as well as in-situ and (ii) in-line monitoring of microgel production processes.



 An introduction to microgels - Hollow temperature-sensitive microgels



 An introduction to microgels - Microgels at interfaces





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Open Access Article on "Functional Microgels and Microgel Systems"

New publication in Accounts of Chemical Research

A new publication by Felix A. Plamper and Prof. Walter Richtering was just made publicly avaible. Check out their review of "Functional Microgels and Microgel Systems" in the latest special issue of Accounts in Chemical Research "Stimuli-Responsive Hydrogels":

SFB 985 on the cover of Advanced Materials Interfaces

Cover image by Antonio Sechi

Antonio Sechi and co-workers describe the fabrication of highly functional and stimuli-responsive nanogel arrays grafted onto glass surfaces by a printing process using wrinkled PDMS templates in article 1600455. These nanogels influence size and dynamics of focal adhesions as well as cell motility forcing cells to move along highly directional trajectories. The modulation of nanogel topographical and mechanical properties by temperature or spacing serves as an effective tool for the regulation of cell motility.



SFB 985 on the cover of Langmuir

Cover image by Andrey A. Rudov

We compare the behavior of hollow microgels and microgels with a rigid silica core at water–oil interfaces. Compression isotherms and computer simulations demonstrate an enhanced deformation for the hollow microgels at the interface. Interestingly, a lower cross-link density leads to a higher compression modulus at low compression, whereas this behavior is reversed at high compression. This is related to an enhanced spreading of network strands at the interface. The cross-link density of the polymer shell defines the degree of deformation at the interface. Additionally, the core restricts the spreading of polymer chains at the interface. These results illustrate the special behavior of soft microgels at liquid interfaces.

For more information, see "Hollow and Core–Shell Microgels at Oil–Water Interfaces: Spreading of Soft Particles Reduces the Compressibility of the Monolayer" by Karen Geisel, Andrey A. Rudov, Igor I. Potemkin and Walter Richtering



JARA-SOFT: Soft Matter Science made in Aachen und Jülich

Sechste JARA-Sektion startet mit großartigem Auftakt

Am 13. Mai 2015 wurde die Gründung der neuen Sektion JARA-SOFT (Soft Matter Science) mit einem Festakt gefeiert. JARA-SOFT widmet sich der multidisziplinaren Erforschung der Weichen Materie. Weiche Materie umfasst sowohl synthetische und biologische Makromoleküle als auch kolloidale und amphiphile Systeme. Ihre Einsatzmöglichkeiten reichen vom Medikamententransport im Körper bis zur verbesserten Straßenhaftung von Autoreifen. Die im Soft Matter Bereich vorhandenen Expertisen am Forschungszentrum Jülich, dem Leibniz-Institut DWI sowie der RWTH Aachen University ergänzen sich hervorragend und liefern das Fundament für die erfolgreiche Forschung in JARA-SOFT.

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