FREEFLUID is a multidisciplinary research project aimed at a vibrant scientific field of complex soft matter, introducing microscopic flow threads and flow networks as programmable microscopic elements. We propose a novel approach –channelfree liquid crystal microfluidics- which combines the internal structure of the fluid with external stimuli to generate microscopic flow streams in a bulk fluid. With no channels, the approach generates flow which is directional, anisotropic, variably strong, and can be propelled with various external stimuli including electric, magnetic, and surface fields. The key advantages of channelfree microfluidics are its inherent programmability, reconfigurability, tunability, being moving-part-free, and the obvious no need for fabrication of channels and channel networks. The subtle backflow coupling of the flow to the orientational order of the fluid suggests strong potency for interesting applications, such as topological flow networks, hierarchically reconfigurable flow profiles, and flow assisted self-assembly of colloidal structures. The approach will be worked on by continuum mesoscopic modelling based on generalized liquid crystalline dynamics, combined with collaborative experiments. After the period of mobility, the wide outreach of the proposed research will lastingly integrate the researcher and offer him continuing professional development. The researcher will build upon his scientific excellence and train in scientific in non-scientific skills. FREEFLUID will be implemented at University of Ljubljana, renown in soft matter community for ingenuity and highest scientific standards. Integration of the researcher will transfer knowledge and create cohesion at bi-lateral and Community level. Strong ties with European and global scientific community, as well as general public, will put the researcher at the cutting edge of the ‘frontier research’ and create links to commercialise high-tech research results.
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