At the University of Montpellier 2, the Colloidal Metallurgy team are designing a system to understand the properties of colloidal polycrystals. The aim is to relate the macroscopic mechanical properties to the microscopic texture of the polycrystal. The team will use a combination of experimental techniques, including optical microscopy and rheology.
The developed colloidal polycrystal model is made up of micelles formed from a commercial molecule: Pluronic F108 block copolymer. At high concentration these micelles self-assemble to form a crystalline phase. Micelles are therefore the equivalent of atoms in an atomic crystal, except that they are two orders of magnitude larger.
The team of researchers is working with a Linkam CSS450 stage to measure the mechanical properties of the crystal. They are able to collect information on the local dynamics of the crystallite organization under an applied shear strain. Using this stage allows the team to visualise their experiments in real-time.
By varying the crystallization rate and crystallites size, the team expects to explain the different microscopic mechanisms at work.
The city of Montpellier is situated in the south of France, and is home to three independent Universities each with the name Montpellier. The University of Montpellier 2 excells in science.
Research at the University is ongoing and we look forward to more updates.
By Caroline Feltham