Mixing Complex Fluids to Create New Materials
Complex fluids have microscopic structures, the evolution of which affects the macroscopic behaviour of the fluid. Examples include polymers, colloids, liquid crystals, and gels. Such materials have great practical utility because the microstructure can be manipulated to produce outstanding mechanical, optical, or thermal properties. An important way of using complex fluids is through the development of composites that offer enhanced or entirely new properties. This is often a more economical route to new materials than synthesis.
Canada Research Chair James J. Feng is studying the dynamics of interface in composites. He is using computer simulations and experiments to investigate how the changes in shape of the interfaces are coupled with the behaviour of the microscopic structures.
By looking at several industrially important complex fluid mixtures, Feng hopes to achieve two immediate goals: to build a fundamental understanding of the physical mechanisms governing interfacial dynamics; and to apply this understanding to actual processing. His research will lead to guidelines for designing new and specialty materials with a wide range of applications from biomedical engineering to semi-conductors.