Symposium SM06—Nano- and Microgels
Nano- and microgels are cross-linked molecular networks swollen by the solvent, in which they are dissolved. Their dimensions range from several hundreds of nanometers to several micrometers. The unique property of the nano- and microgels is their ability to dramatically change shape and volume in response to external stimuli such as temperature, pressure and ionic strength. For a nano- or microgel with a complex shape placed in the gradient of a stimulus field, the volume change is coupled to complex deformation patterns and provides the opportunity to reversibly tune the physical and chemical properties of the nano- or microscalar gel.
Due to the microscopic length scale intrinsic to nano- and microgels, these changes are taking place at the sub-microsecond time scale making them distinct from macroscopic hydrogels. Nano- and microgels provide a combination of structural integrity, high molecular porosity and soft deformability that sets them apart distinctly from other commonplace colloids. These features offer unique combinations of architectural diversity in nano- and microgels enabling integration and compartmentalization of otherwise incompatible chemical functionalities. From a physics point of view, nano- and microgels are particularly intriguing and challenging, since their molecular properties are intimately linked with their surface behavior and inter-colloidal interactions. Their unique properties render nano- and microgels relevant in applications as mediating materials for catalysis, as sensors, as building blocks in micro-robotics and for separation process technology.
This symposium will broadly cover current and emerging questions related to the physical, chemical and material properties of nano- and microgels. The symposium seeks to provide a general overview of recent advances in new design concepts, modelling tools, fabrication techniques and promising applications enabled by these new developments.