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Uniaxal magnetic gels: Kinetics of formation of field sensitive and field responsive hybrid materials and their mechanical anisotropy


The proposed Marie Curie Fellowship is dedicated to the study of uniaxial magnetic gels, which are promising candidates for biomimetic materials, e.g. artificial muscles. Magnetic gels combine a polymeric network with embedded nanometer- or micrometer-sized magnetic particles.

Macroscopically, this hybrid material integrates the properties of its building parts, resulting in an elastic and magnetic field-responsive 'intelligent' material. A number of studies (mainly on isotropic, rarely on uniaxial, magnetic gels) has proven the high potential of this new class of materials. The special emphasis of this project is on the ¿ as yet unstudied ¿ kinetics of the formation of uniaxial magnetic gels and on its anisotropic mechanical properties.

A good insight in the formation process is essential for an efficient design and optimization of the material. The set of experimental techniques available in the host group offers unique possibilities for this study, combining various mechanical (piezo-rheology and ultrasound methods) and optical (light scattering and microscopy) techniques.

Piezo-rheology is ideal for the study of fragile materials, like forming gels, as it allows for very small applied strains, a large frequency range, a small sample thickness and can be combined in situ with optical techniques and external fields. Comparison of the experimental results, for example with percolation theories, will lead to detailed models of the formation process and provide a basis for material optimization.

With this fellowship in a worldwide leading laboratory the applicant will:
i) acquire complementary skills;
ii) strengthen existing and create new collaborations;
iii) work in an environment which stimulates his creative potential;
iv) intensify his interdisciplinary research work, and thus contribute as an active and independent researcher to the European Research Area in his field of interest, the dynamics of knowledge-based materials.

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