Interdisciplinary research at Technische Universität München gains more and more importance. Colloid science is a strongly interdisciplinary research field, reaching from chemical synthesis over characterization of the resulting functional, soft materials and their theoretical description as well as their applications, e.g. in the pharmaceutical domain. The findings and the resulting materials are nowadays commonplace, but also offer numerous possibilities for the development of functional or „smart“ materials. One example of many are hydrogels, which are used in food, but also in medical drug delivery or as functional coatings. Therefore, it was obious that Technische Universität München hosted the biannual General Meeting of the German Colloid Society in October 2017.
The German Colloid Society was founded in 1922; thus, is is one of the oldest scientific societies in Germany. This year’s General Meeting took place at the Physics Department and was themed „Multiresponsive Systems“, because intensive research is done in this field at the Physics and the Chemistry Department as well as at the Maier-Leibnitz-Zentrum.
Responsive (“smart”) materials react to an outer stimulus (e.g. a small change of temperature or of the pH value) with a strong change of their volume or their structure, for instance. Multiresponsive systems respond to several stimuli and are based on the combination of several, differently responsive polymers or colloids. They offer numerous applications, e.g. as injectable gels for medical drug delivery or as smart emulsifiers. Both, modern synthesis methods and advanced characterization methods are necessary to follow the switching processes in-situ and to achieve a profound understanding of the switching mechanisms, which allows tuning the materials for the desired application.
These challenges were discussed at this year’s General Meeting by ca. 150 scientists who participated, half of which were master and PhD students. Excellent talks were given by the seven invited speakers coming from, among others, Japan, Canada, Greece and The Netherlands. Moreover, this year’s prizes of the Colloid Society were awarded: the Ostwald award to Reinhard Lipowsky (MPI für Kolloid- und Grenzflächenforschung, Potsdam), the Steinkopff award to Rainer Müller (FU Berlin), the Liesegang award to Regine von Klitzing (TU Darmstadt) and the Zsigmondy stipend to Annette Andrieu-Brunsen (TU Darmstadt). The Springer lecture was held by Mitsuhiro Shibayama (University of Tokyo, Japan). 42 special lectures in three parallel sessions as well as 80 posters gave and impression of the actual progress in the field of colloid science and especially multiresponsive systems. At the conference dinner in Augustinerkeller, the Ramersdorfer Tanzlmusi played traditional Bavarian music, and the participants enjoyed Bavarian beer and food. The Springer poster prize was awarded to Qimeng Song (Uni Siegen). In a guided tour through the neutron source FRM II, the participants could get an impression how modern neutron methods are used for investigations of colloidal and responsive systems. The meeting was kindly sponsored by several companies as well as the International Research Group ATUMS.
Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy is an extremely sensitive method for the spatially resolved determination of the dynamics in soft matter and is thus well-suited to investigate multiresponsive systems. Therefore, after the general meeting of the Colloid Society, the 3rd workshop „Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy in Soft Matter Science“ was held at the Physics Department. More than 40 scientists and students participated in this one-day workshop, which was characterized by intense discussion about the possibilities of this method in the fields of polymer, colloid and life sciences. Three invited speakers from Munich, Basel and Zurich as well as 11 short talks gave an impression about the most recent developments. Among others, fluorescence correlation spectroscopy may be used to characterize the dynamic properties of artificial cell membranes or to investigate the effect of blood proteins on polymeric nanoparticles which are used for chemotherapy.
The participants of both events were enthusiastic, especially about the possibilities for broad scientific exchange and the hearty atmosphere. For us, it was a pleasure to host these events.