Living systems are prototypical examples of active matter made of self-driven units. Active colloids that convert energy into work offer exciting routes to emulate Nature’s complexity and open new opportunities in materials science and engineering. They enabled the formation of synthetic flocks and collective behavior formerly limited to the biological realm but have not been used to build and control functional units, hindering progress towards self-regulated materials. The objective of this project is to develop a 3D nanofuel, a fluid made of active nanoparticles. The advantage of active nanoparticles is their possible integration in micrometric structures, a feature that is not currently available with microscale active particles. Such structures will offer improved versatility, as the overall behavior can be tuned by changing the characteristics of the nanofuel and have the potential to generate work at large scale. To this end, the research project proposes to i) synthesize a nanometric self-driven unit with tailored propulsion mechanism, ii) characterize the emergent dynamics of large assemblies of such units and iii) exploit those as an internal nanomachinery, a nanofuel, to power microstructures. This will enable the creation of a novel type of active emulsion, driven at the nanoscale. Through the design of a nanofuel, the proposed research will furthermore explore for the first time active matter in 3D and nano-propulsion. This project is built upon advanced nano-optical and correlation techniques, used to synthesize, characterize, and manipulate active nanoparticles individually and collectively, and involves complementary expertise of the host team in optofluidics and nanoparticle synthesis and of the researcher in active matter and nano-optics. This research will extend the field of active matter to the nanoscale and open new routes for the design of smart materials with tunable behavior and functionality.
Call for proposal
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