Group leader: Dr. Wim Noorduin

The Self-Organizing Matter group is part of the Designer Matter initiative, which is a new research direction that focuses on fundamental questions regarding the creation and design of structured materials with novel functionalities.

The Self-Organizing Matter group focuses on the dynamic interplay between chemical reactions and crystallization phenomena to control the emergence of complexity in the solid state. In particular, the group aims to design physical-chemical schemes to self-organize microscale devices and functional molecules.

Research activities

In natural systems, the interplay between chemical reactions and crystallization phenomena can result in a virtually unlimited pallet of patterns and forms, ranging from regularly deposited bands in rock formations to the intricate mineral skeletons of microscopic marine organisms. Although the complexity of these structures has fascinated scientists for centuries, the underlying mechanisms often remain poorly understood. Harnessing the basic principles that guide such self-assembly processes is therefore of fundamental scientific interest, but also promises a paradigm shift in the manufacturing of molecules and nano-materials.

Our group explores physical-chemical mechanisms that can sort, arrange and assemble building blocks from the molecular level up to the microscale. Current research includes the development of new routes to control nucleation, polymorphism, shape and hierarchical organization of mineralizing structures. With this refined level of control, we also seek to design self-organizing functional molecules and materials such as pharmaceutical compounds and optical architectures.

3D reconstruction by Dr. Sergio Bertazzo (University College London).