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ICS research axis

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ICS "Institut Charles Sadron" is taking advantage of the rather unique combination of competences in chemistry, physical chemistry, materials science and soft matter physics. We are faced with important scientific challenges, our actions are focused on 3 thematic axes which have been selected for their emergent impact, either in terms of applications or with regard to fundamental questions. These axes concern Polyelectrolytes, Polymers and interfaces and Self-assembled systems. The first two axes are built on research topics that have a long tradition at the ICS. The third axis, on the other hand, highlights a more recent research interest shared by many groups of the ICS. Scientifically the contents of the axes can be circumscribed as follows:

  • Polyelectrolytes
    -  Polyelectrolytes are natural or synthetic, water soluble, charged polymers which are widely used in the fields of pharmacy, biology, food processing, water treatment or oil extraction. In most of these applications, the polyelectrolytes are in presence of various components of opposite charge and/or of the same charge. Clearly, the complexity present in these mixtures requires theoretical and experimental studies of model systems, both concerning polyelectrolyte complexes in suspension or multilayers of alternating polyanions and polycations. 
  • Polymers and interfaces

In a number of situations dealing with surface chemistry or surface physics, there are polymer chains adsorbed, grafted or just confined in a very thin layer. Conformation and dynamics of a macromolecule in the vicinity of a surface can differ from those of the bulk. The impact of the surface on the physical-chemical behavior and structure formation still presents many important challenges for fundamental understanding. Theoretical studies and numerical simulations in complement with experimental investigations of surface structure and properties are therefore highly desirable.

  • Self-assembled systems

Self-assembled systems result from the spontaneous organization which occurs between some well defined molecules thanks to their complementary through weak supramolecular interactions. Self-assembly is programmed by the information contained in the initial molecular or macromolecular individual components which reversibly aggregate in structures of higher dimension and complexity. The main biologic functions of living systems mostly rely on basic principles of supramolecular chemistry and despite their high complexity those are important sources of inspiration for developing new synthetic self-assemblies. Moreover, in nanosciences, the so called « bottom-up » approach is fully related to the control and to the programming of molecular interactions to yield larger objects with new or improved functions, through hierarchical self-assembly. Such approaches require converging efforts in organic synthesis, physical chemistry, theory and simulations, aiming at a better understanding of the thermodynamics and formation kinetics of functional materials based on self assembly and self organization.