Light-controlled Marangoni effect for out-out-equilibrium systems with emerging properties

Monday 15 April 2024, 2:30 pm
PhD student
A.-D.C. Nguindjel MSc.
prof. dr. W.T.S. Huck
dr. P.A. Korevaar

In the biological world, organisms display a large array of functional behaviours like growth, division, stimuli response or taxis, that allows them to adapt and thrive in their environment. These abilities are built in the design of the organisms, and are in fact pre-programed by the complex networks of chemical reactions that they encapsulate. As the understanding of living systems’ inner workings has progressed, scientists have begun to use them as inspiration in the design of more sophisticated synthetic systems. In the field of systems chemistry, this turns into an incentive to develop out-of-equilibrium systems with emerging functionalities, and eventually obtain materials that are stimuli-responsive, capable of information processing and autonomous decision-making. 
In this thesis, we show how chemical reactions that generate surface tension gradients and Marangoni flows at the air/water interface can be used to build out-of-equilibrium systems. Furthermore, we demonstrate how, when embedded into material systems, these reactions can lead to pre-programed functional behaviours such as motion, communication or self-regulation. 

Anne-Déborah has obtained her bachelor’s degree of chemistry in 2014 at Paris VI – Sorbonne University. The following year, she started her master’s degree in the same university and specialized in materials chemistry. For her first internship, she travelled to Basel (CH) and studied the design of silica nanoparticles for virus-like particles recognition in the laboratory of Prof. Patrick Shahgaldian at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern. Her interest for innovative materials led her to do a second internship in the team of Prof. Nathalie Katsonis at Twente University. There, she worked on adaptive mechanical properties of light-responsive liquid crystal polymer networks. Motivated by challenging research projects, she started her PhD in 2017 under the supervision of Prof. Wilhelm Huck and Dr. Peter Korevaar at Radboud University. The results of her work on out-of-equilibrium systems with emerging properties are presented in this thesis.