From drops to materials
Nature produces soft functional materials displaying exceptional mechanical properties. We are far from synthesizing soft synthetic analogues possessing a similar set of functionality and mechanical properties. This discrepancy in properties is closely related to the degree of compositional and structural control which is much higher in natural soft materials. The level of compositional and structural control depends on the processing of these materials. Inspired by the fabrication of natural soft materials, my group introduces drop-based processes to fabricate granular materials possessing well-defined microstructures and optionally abruptly changing compositions. In this talk, I will demonstrate how we 3D print or cast functional cm-sized granular load-bearing soft materials starting from compartmentalized reagents. Inspired by the mineralization of certain soft natural scaffolds, I will discuss possibilities to transform synthetic soft materials into hard and tough composites with compositions and mechanical properties that are similar to some of the natural counterparts.
Bio: Esther Amstad studied material science at ETH in Zurich where she also carried out her PhD thesis on the steric stabilization of iron oxide nanoparticles. She performed a Postdoc at Harvard University where she developed microfluidic devices for example to produce calibrated emulsion drops at high throughputs. In 2014, she joined the material science institute of EPFL as a Tenure Track Assistant Professor in the institute of Materials where she got promoted to an Associate Professor in 2021. She heads the Soft Materials Laboratory (SMAL) that introduces drop-based processes to fabricate functional load-bearing granular materials.
- General public
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- School of Engineering (STI) - Deanship & Institute of Materials
- Ingrid Fischer & Sylvie Deschamps