We* are coordinating a program at the Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics at UC Santa Barbara in the period Mar 27, 2023 — May 19, 2023 on the topic nanoparticle assemblies. Applications can still be entered here:

Nanoparticle Assemblies: A New Form of Matter with Classical Structure and Quantum Function

*Coordinators: Michael Engel, Laura Na Liu, Monica Olvera de la Cruz, Eran Rabani, and Alex Travesset

Materials whose elementary building blocks are nanoparticles with dimensions between a few and hundred nanometers, such as nanocrystals and colloids, instead of atoms or molecules, provide a new form of matter, with many properties, both in structure and function, that are not achievable with traditional materials. This raises a number of new fundamental questions such as:

  • What is the minimal physical description at the nanoscale?
  • How to discover new assemblies?
  • What are the effects or properties for these new materials and the characterization of equilibrium and metastability?

The program will bring together scientists from diverse communities: physicists, chemists and material scientists in an effort to address the emerging fundamental questions and long-term prospects of this young field. It will develop collaborative efforts in the areas of programmable assembly, structure prediction, inverse methods, electronic properties and new functional materials, with the goal of becoming a reference for the exciting future ahead.

This look at the geometry of crystals beyond the constraints of chemistry accomplished by computer simulation has been 8+ years in the making:

“Which crystal structures are possible if the restrictions of the quantum realm are lifted? Our knowledge of ordered particle geometries was previously restricted to the kinds of structures observable in hard condensed matter—on the atomic scale. Here, we use freely tunable computational models to represent particles with variable properties, and we determine the crystal structures into which they self-assemble. The resulting arrangements often correspond to structures known from atomic-scale materials; however, we discover a comparable number of previously unknown crystal structures with different local coordination motifs, incompatible with the limitations of the chemical bond. Our results can be used to engineer soft condensed matter with unprecedented, ordered geometries, paving the way toward materials with potentially novel properties.”

Read this work here:

Julia Dshemuchadse, Pablo F. Damasceno, Carolyn L. Phillips, Michael Engel, Sharon C. Glotzer
Moving Beyond the Constraints of Chemistry via Crystal Structure Discovery with Isotropic Multiwell Pair Potentials
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 118, e2024034118 (2021)

A new virtual seminar series called GEOMPACK (geompack.com) aims to bring together researchers from a range of disciplines (physics, materials, biology, mathematics, computer science). The series focuses on problems in geometry and packing in materials and biology, and provides an avenue to share new research and promote discussion.

Seminars will take place in spring every two weeks and are scheduled for Wednesdays at 4:30 pm (London time). The first seminar will be Wednesday, March 24, from Sabetta Matsumoto (GA Tech), “Twisted topological tangles or: the knot theory of knitting”.

Other speakers this semester are Marjolein Dijkstra (Universiteit Utrecht), Sasche Hilgenfeldt (University of Illinois), Lisa Manning (Syracuse University), Vinothan Manoharan (Harvard University), and Giuliana Indelicato (University of York).

To see the line up of speakers and to subscribe to the seminar announcements, visit geompack.com.

FAU will receive funds to establish a National Center for High Performance Computing (NHR@FAU). It will be part of a nationwide network with (initially) seven other centers. The federal and state governments will provide a total of up to 625 million € in funding for the entire project over the next 10 years. Scientific support for broad application groups, promoting the further development of HPC techniques and tools, and training and education activities will also be funded in addition to HPC systems and operating costs.

This is very exciting news for all computationally working research groups in Erlangen. Congratulations to everybody involved!

Read more about this development here.

The German Research Foundation (DFG) approved a new Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) ‘Design of Particulate Products’ to start in January 2020. The CRC will be coordinated by FAU and its researchers are set to receive around 11 million euros in funding for nanoparticle design.

The research team, including the Engel Lab, are planning a novel approach by developing models to design and optimise the nanoparticles before they are produced in the laboratory, a technique that has been made possible by close collaboration between mathematics and particle technology.

For more information, read the FAU Press Release and visit the Webpage of CRC 1411.

Logo of CRC 1411

Our joint work with Nicolas Vogel and Erdmann Spiecker advanced the understanding of the structure, defect accumulation and thermodynamics of colloidal clusters on and off magic numbers and was awarded this month’s cover for ACS Nano. Congratulations Junwei and Chrameh!

Read about it here:

Free Energy Landscape of Colloidal Clusters in Spherical Confinement
J. Wang, C.F. Mbah, T. Przybilla, S. Englisch, E. Spiecker, M. Engel, N. Vogel
ACS Nano 13, 9005-9015 (2019)

Michael Engel made a trip to to USA with a research stay at the University of Michigan, a visit of the Talpin group with seminar at the University of Chicago, and a joint workshop of the University of Minnesota and the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg in Minneapolis.

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