Complex Materials

The purpose of the project is to investigate the connections between the microscopic and macroscopic properties of soft, complex materials. Examples of complex materials include biomaterials, polymers and biopolymers, colloids and complex liquids. These materials are characterised by weak interactions between their microscopic units and large variations in their spatio-temporal configurations.

Complex logoThe Complex materials group at IFE is a partner in the COMPLEX nationally coordinated research team, which has been established between IFE and research groups at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and the University of Oslo.

The Complex-IFE group investigate the connections between the microscopic and macroscopic properties of soft and complex materials. Our main tools in these investigations are neutron scattering, x-ray scattering and microscopy techniques. In addition we are involved in modelling of various dynamic, time-dependent processes going on in materials like diffusion, hydrogen gas absorption or magnetic aggregation.

Examples of advanced materials studied by the Complex materials group:

Ferrofluids are "liquid magnets" and an early success story in the commercialization of nanotechnology. In the 1970s, ferrofluids were adopted by the disk drive industry as near-zero friction bearings. Prepare for a "liquid magnetism technology", with smart fluid applications ranging from vibration shock absorption to materials separation. More ...

Some of the possible forms of carbon nanoconesNanocarbon
Carbon comes in various forms. the most exotic ones are the man made nanocarbon materials: nanotubes, C60 and carbon cones. These could have enormous potential for making super strong materials, in the electronic industry and in the future hydrogen society. More ...

Neutron images of nanoparticlesPolymers and biopolymers
Long chain-like molecules (polymers) are extremely efficient in modyfying the macroscopic properties of many materials. For example, the addition of just a small amount of polymer (around 1%) to water can rapidly change the behaviour from that of a low-viscious liquid to a non-flowing solid.
Biopolymers are extremely functional materials, created by nature to perform very specialized tasks. We investigate the relationship between their internal structure and function, and how they affect the macroscopic properties of the materials they are a part of.
Biopolymers, ferrofluids, nanocarbon and many other materials that contain particles of nanometer size can be studied using the Small Angle Neutron Scattering (SANS) instrument at the IFE JEEP-II reactor.

Some examples of dynamic processes studied are:

Aggregate of magnetic particlesMagnetic aggregation
Magnetic particles in, e.g., a ferrofluid are attracted to each other due to magnetic forces. When they come together they may form complex aggregates. The aggregation process depends on the strength of the forces as well as the geometry of the confining system.


Braid of magnetic particlesBraid dynamics
The trajectories of microparticles moving in a fluid or gas may be modelled as mathematical space-time braids. Magnetic colloidal particles show a very complex dynamic behaviour and can be described using diffusion and braid theory. More ...


Related projects:

Nanoparticle complex fluids