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Mixed systems based on polymers

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We study from a fundamental point of view mixed systems based on polymers. The polymers may be neutral or charged and result from covalent linkage or self-assembly. The associated compounds are other polymers, latexes, nanoparticles, tensioactive molecules or proteins.

The concepts employed involve the physics of condensed matter, in particular the thermodynamics of mixtures, the statistical physics of soft matter and the dynamics of complex fluids.

Our principal objectives are to elucidate the thermodynamic, structural and dynamic bulk (or: volume) properties of these systems. The team likewise addresses problems specific to thin films or related to the physics of interfaces, most often in collaboration with other groups of the ICS or another laboratory. Thus, we study the structuration of surfaces and the synthesis of nanoparticles assisted by tensioactive agents.

Our team is also interested in the chemistry of polymers in aqueous media (synthesis of particular amphiphilic polymers by polymerization in dispersed, nanostructured media).
The basic techniques are those of physicochemical characterization, static and dynamic light, X-ray and neutron diffusion and rheology. Optical, electron and near-field microscopy and the measurement of forces are complementary methods which are used occasionally.

The group also carries out instrumental research, both by developing prototypes:

  • light diffusion under flow, in the near-field, time-resolved or in mode “multi-tavelures”,
  • X-ray diffusion under flow,
  • coupling of X-ray diffusion with force measurements (collaboration with team M3),
  • oven for synthesis under gas flow,

and by extending the field of application of existing instruments:

  • coupling of steric (or: size-)exclusion chromatography or field-flow fractionation with light diffusion for amphiphilic systems (collaboration with the Characterization Service).

Current projects:

  • Conformation of linear, comb, ring and star polyelectrolytes, in the presence of multivalent ions or tensioactive molecules of opposite charge
  • Depletion interactions in polymer-colloid mixtures
  • Structure and dynamics of complexes based on conjugated polyelectrolytes
  • Structure of polyelectrolyte-protein complexes
  • Structure of DNA-polyelectrolyte complexes
  • Growth of carbon nanotubes on nanostructured surfaces
  • Structure and electronic properties of polymer-carbon nanotube composites
  • Non-linear rheology of elongated micelles of tensioactive polymers

Members of the team:
Combet Jérôme
Fleith Guillaume
Petit Pierre
Rawiso Michel
Schosseler François