POLYMERS AND SOFT MATTER

Polymers and Soft Matter

STAFF

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The research activity on “Polymers & Soft Matter” deals with the experimental and theoretical study of materials made of polymers and soft condensed matter. This activity mainly focuses on the investigation of the structure and dynamics of polymers and glass-forming complex systems (multi-component, nano-structured and biopolymer materials), in general, at different length and time scales (micro, nano, meso, macro). The methodological approach developed to tackle this research line is based on a combination of relaxation techniques, neutron and X-ray scattering, microscopy techniques and molecular dynamics simulations. A combination of experimental, theoretical and simulation efforts, together with the development of advanced chemical synthesis routes, is being essential to progress in this interdisciplinary area. A group of tenured scientists belonging to CSIC, UPV/EHU and Ikerbasque develop the different aspects of this compact research line.

In recent years, the following specific objectives have been targeted in this research activity:

  • understanding of the interplay of geometry and topology in polymeric materials
  • the characterisation of interfacial features
  • the study of the dynamics at the interfacial level, the new confinement effects and the way local friction arises in crowed environments.

The experimental effort that covers these objectives is developed in a set of laboratories in the centre that are equipped with a variety of microscopy and spectroscopy techniques. Among others, a Scanning Electron Microscope, dielectric spectrometers and a spectrometer of low-angle X-ray diffraction are located in the centre and are run by one of the members of the research group, giving service to the research community.

An important aspect of this activity is the strong connection with private companies, which hire the services of the group to study and characterise particular forms of soft matter, such as rubber. Contracts with Good-Year or Michelin are good examples of this activity.

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RESEARCH FACILITIES

DIELECTRIC SPECTROSCOPY LAB

Different frequency and time-domain spectrometers covering more than 16th orders of magnitude in frequency/time.

MOLECULAR SPECTROSCOPY TECHNIQUES

Infrared Spectrometer FT-IR, Terahertz Spectrometer.

MICROSCOPY LAB

Atomic Force Microscope (AFM), Optical/Confocal Microscope, Desktop Scanning Electron Microscope.

X-RAY LAB

Small Angle X-Ray Scattering (SAXS) technique: Rigaku PSAXS-L with simultaneous Wide Angle X-Ray Scattering (WAXS) option, Wide Angle X-Ray Scattering (WAXS) technique: Bruker AXS D8 ADVANCE.

THERMAL ANALYSIS TECHNIQUES

Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC), Pressure-Volume-Temperature (PVT), Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA), Dilatometry (DIL).

MECHANICAL CHARACTERIZATION TECHNIQUES

Rheometry with simultaneous electric impedance analysis Miniature Material Tester.

CHEMISTRY LAB

Different techniques oriented to Polymer Synthesis and Click-Chemistry.

TECHNIQUES FREQUENTLY USED IN LARGE SCALE FACILITIES

Inelastic and Quasielastic Neutron Scattering, X-ray Scattering by Synchrotron Radiation.

COMPUTING FACILITIES FOR MOLECULAR DYNAMICS (MD) SIMULATIONS

Several computing clusters at CFM and other institutions (like DIPC) under collaborative research, Software for atomistic and coarse-grained MD-simulations.