Complex Fluids, Multiphase, & Multiscale Matter

Understanding, exploiting, and controlling structure in materials, both solid and fluid, is crucial for a range of technological applications. The structure of interest can span several scales, from atoms/molecules (atomic-scale), microscopic assemblies composed of clusters and particles (meso-scale), to multiphasic and granular organization of matter (continuum-scale). In several instances, the resultant properties are tuned by controlling scale-specific architecture and morphology. In this research cluster, we aim to engineer matter by the synthesis and manipulation of structure of matter at one or several of these scales, as a way to control functional properties for emerging technologies.

Probing and characterizing structure across scales requires experimental, theoretical, and modeling tools from across a wide range of disciplines and the MIE department is home to a strong group of researchers in related areas.  The cluster brings together research groups in synthesis and processing, characterization, and computational modeling and theory. The cluster can be partitioned into three main thrust areas:

i) particulate media,

ii) architectured matter, and

iii) multiphase solutions and materials.

Research activities in particulate media involve ionic/polyelectrolytic solutions, functional colloidal gels and suspensions (e.g. magnetic particulate suspensions), and powder-processing routes for next-generation additive manufacturing of metallic alloys and ceramics.

Architecture-mediated control over properties involves efforts in nanoelectronic materials formed by nanostructuring of functional building blocks such as nanotubes, nanowires/nanorods nd nanoparticles,  self-/directed-assembly and printing of functional building blocks into prescribed patterns, 3D printing, cellular and metamaterials, origami and kirigami-based materials, and active, adaptive architectures.

Efforts in multiphase matter include phase change materials, defect engineering in crystalline metals and ceramics (grain boundary and dislocation microstructures), interface engineering in multiphase materials, and multiphase flows and their applications in microfluidics and geophysical systems.


Some examples of work in this area include: counterion organization in a polyelectrolyte solutions, functional properties and flow of ionic liquids, suspensions of magnetic particles, controlled pore size and structure in consolidated powder beds, structure-property relations in polycrystalline alloys, ceramics or other sintered materials of interest in modern additive manufacturing techniques, non-linear instabilities such as buckling and rupture of particulates and their surfaces (mechanical), non-linear geophysical flows (fluids),  synthesis and growth of low-dimensional nanostructures such as nanotubes, nanowires and nanorods, multifunctional properties of assemblies of nanoscale building blocks (fibers and thin films), mechanical and optical properties of architectured cellular materials and metamaterials, and origami based active thin films.