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Wouldn’t it be great to be able to make materials with any properties we like? For instance, something that can flow like water, but can be as hard as steel when needed. To reach that dream, the first step is to design building blocks that can automatically assemble into predefined structures. The building blocks of our material are tiny particles, a hundred times smaller than the thickness of a human hair. These are called colloids. In specific, my research group works with magnetic colloids, particles that contain tiny magnets. By intentionally designing particles with specific shapes and magnetic properties, we can program them to repel each other or to stick together in a predefined way to form larger structures. By doing this, we’re controlling the properties of the next generation materials. And who knows? Maybe in the future, we can build materials that can flow like water and can be hard as steel.

A FLOWING MATERIAL THAT IS HARD AS STEEL
LAURA ROSSIPROFILE
TU Delft

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to make materials with any properties we like? For instance, something that can flow like water, but can be as hard as steel when needed. Laura Rossi of the TU Delft designs chemical building blocks that automatically assemble into materials that don’t exist yet.

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