Giulia Fiorucci MSc

Ornstein Laboratory, room  16
Princetonplein 1,  3584 CC Utrecht
P.O. Box 80 000, 3508 TA Utrecht
The Netherlands
phone: +31(0)30 253 2467
secretariat: +31(0)30 253 2952


Supervisor: Prof. dr. ir. M. Dijkstra
Promotor: M. Dijkstra
Employed: 1 April 2015 – 30 March 2019
Funded by MCEC

Molecular Dynamics, Stochastic Rotation
Dynamics, Hydrodynamics

Fine control over placement of materials on the nano- and meso-scale is a key element of designing new materials. In this project we aim to shed new light on one way to control the structure of these materials over multiple length scales: hierarchical self-assembly. In hierarchical self-assembly, we start by arranging atoms into clusters, which are often called nanoparticles. Then, the nanoparticles can be organized into larger clusters, and this process continues on different length scales with new properties and functionalities added at each self-assembly step. The structural properties of the resulting material are determined by the shape, size, and materials used in each assembly step. Recently, the self-assembly (SA) of nanoparticles inside the confinement of slowly drying emulsion droplets was investigated by experiments and simulations [2]. It was shown that the spherical confinement influences the SA process in an intriguing way, leading to crystalline clusters (supraparticles) with icosahedral symmetry. In this project, we will use computer simulations to provide support to optimize the structure of these supraparticles by tuning the shape and interactions of the nanoparticles, and to understand all aspects, including the effect of hydrodynamics, on the SA of particles in emulsions.

To be more specific, we will first investigate the role of hydrodynamics on the nucleation and crystallization in bulk colloidal systems. The formation of crystalline nuclei (nucleation) is a non-equilibrium event, in which under certain condition of temperature and pressure, colloidal particles start to aggregate in an ordered structure. The hydrodynamic interactions between the colloids, which are many-body and long-range in nature, may play a decisive role in nucleation and should be included in a realistic model. In this way we plan to shed light on the discrepancy as observed in the nucleation rate between numerical results that ignore hydrodynamics (colloids-only simulations) and experimental data (light scattering experiments) [1].

[1] L. Filion, R. Ni, D. Frenkel and M. Dijkstra, J. Chem. Phys. 134, 134901 (2011).
[2] B. de Nijs, S. Dussi, F. Smallenburg, J.D. Meeldijk, D.J. Groenendijk, L. Filion, A. Imhof, A. van Blaaderen, and M. Dijkstra, Nature Materials 14, 56-60 (2015)