We aim to establish an multidisciplinary research programme that is focussed on the underlying structural and dynamical processes which determine the intimate relation between impurities and material properties. We propose to exploit the advantages of colloidal model systems and study the impact of impurities on the structural and dynamical properties of crystalline, polycrystalline and amorphous colloidal solids using a combination of state-of-the art fast confocal microscopy and three-dimensional holographic optical laser tweezers. We plan to achieve control over the subtle interplay between glass formation and crystallisation by the tuned addition of impurities. We envisage that our approach will not only offer a direct entry into key mechanisms like impurity drag, but will also allow us to directly and quantitatively measure the central forces at play such as the Zener pinning force. We also aim to study the glass transition from a completely new point of view by tuning the structure using impurities and subsequently ‘freezing-in’ part of the system using holographic optical tweezing. This approach could lead to the determination of a thermodynamic signature of the glass transition, which would put the glass transition in a completely new perspective. In addition, we will investigate the relation between the presence of impurities and the (micro)mechanical properties of doped colloidal materials using (micro)rheological techniques. This ambitious project opens up a huge range of exciting possibilities to gain deep and fundamental understanding of the relation between the (micro)mechanical properties of glasses, polycrystals and crystals and the presence of impurities; a prerequisiute for exploiting these effects in tailoring the properties of materials.
Fields of science
Call for proposal
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