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Inverse Design of Soft Materials: Crystals, Quasi Crystals, Liquid Crystals

Marjolein Dijkstra is scientific director of the Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science at Utrecht University. Her group focuses on theory and simulations to obtain a better fundamental understanding on the self-assembly of  colloidal building blocks and on how the self-assembly process can be manipulated by external fields such as gravity, templates, liquid interfaces, shear, electric fields, and confinement.


In 1960, Feynman challenged us to think “from the bottom up” and to create new functional materials by directing and manipulating the arrangements of individual atoms ourselves. With recent advances in the synthesis of colloidal nanoparticles and the bottom-up fabrication of nanostructured materials using colloidal self-assembly, we are tantalizingly close to realizing this dream. In this talk, I will show using theory and simulations how one can structure matter over multiple length scales using hierarchical self-assembly. The prediction and design of these structures remains an important challenge for nanomaterials science. I will present a method to predict which structures are stable assuming the shape and interactions between the constituent particles are known, and I will show that particle shape alone can already give rise to a wide variety of structures such as crystals, plastic crystals, quasi crystals, and liquid crystals, which can be classified using machine learning techniques.  Subsequently, I will show how one can reverse-engineer the particle shape to stabilize highly exotic liquid crystal phases. 



The SCM group,

Utrecht University,

The Netherlands

Research tracks

Chemistry of Materials

More information

Marjolein Dijkstra's homepage

Keynote speaker

Tuesday 10 December

14:05 - 14:35h

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CHAINS 2019 is organised by NWO Domain Science with the support of partners Holland Chemistry and KNCV