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TU Berlin

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Research Program

The International Graduate Research Training Group is aiming at fundamental properties of selfassembled nanostructures of soft (organic and biomolecular) matter at interfaces. Studies will be devoted to the nature of the structures formed and the driving forces behind their formation. A common objective of the research program will be a better understanding of the interplay of the length scales characterizing the substrate and the properties of the self-assembled surface structures formed at the substrate. Research will be focused on three types of systems of different degree of complexity: (i) Systems in which the characteristic length scale results from a surface pattern imposed on an otherwise flat solid surface. Specifically, it will be investigated how ''chemical'' patterns ranging from nano- to micrometer dimensions can be formed through self-assembly and how they can be imprinted onto adjacent soft-matter phases. (ii) Systems with curved interfaces, in which the mean radius of curvature of the substrate represents a primary length scale. The self-assembly of amphiphilic molecules at the surface of colloidal particles into surface micelles, bilayers, etc. is an example of such systems. (iii) Biomimetic structures of various length scales within interfaces. Typical issues here are, for example, the size and stability of domains formed in multicomponent biomembranes or field-induced pattern formation of colloidal particles at interfaces. The studies will be performed by a group of physical chemists and physicists with expertise in experimental and theoretical soft-matter and interface research. A strong collaboration between theory/molecular simulation and experiment in the research program, which is a key for progress in this field, has been successfully implemented between the German applicants for several years. On the US side a group of researchers with complementary scientific interests and methods has been gathered. Research activities of the IRTG will be accompanied by an integrated study program organized in a modular fashion. It involves modules from theory and experiment that students select based upon advice by their supervisors in order to broaden their expertise beyond their immediate field of research. Ph.D. theses will be jointly supervised by a German and a US scientist.

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