Soft nanotechnology is generally considered as a field that will have a major impact on technological developments in near future. However, the fundamental understanding of the wealth of new structures lacks far behind, despite supporting activity from material science. Such an understanding is indispensable for sustainable growth of this important research domain and its applications. A physics-oriented interdisciplinary education is urgently needed to guide young researchers to the point where they can tackle the relevant fundamental questions. SOMATAI is set up to provide just such training by combining two distinct scientific fields: Soft matter science is a well established interdisciplinary field for the bulk investigation of polymers, colloids, and liquid crystals with response amplitude and time to external stimuli as a function of soft matter structure being of special interest. The second highly relevant field is interface science, since nano-structured materials contain a huge area of internal interfaces which have an essential impact on material properties. The application of the soft matter approach to interfaces promises new and deeper understanding of interfacial phenomena. Interfaces of a water phase to a solid, liquid or gaseous second phase are of special interest and a focal point of SOMATAI. Such interfaces are highly relevant to products from European industry (food, cosmetics, paints) and processes (washing, coating, water purification). They have an outstanding importance from a scientific point of view due to specific interactions at such interfaces. This carefully planned teaching and research programme in a network of 10 leading academic partners, 1 large scale companies, 2 SMEs, and 4 top-level associated partners from Germany, Taiwan and the USA will ensure that young researchers are given an excellent training in a pioneering research domain of high scientific and technological relevance, where Europe can take a leading position.
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