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DiStruc Newsletter - Issue 3, 2017 


Welcome to the third issue of the DiStruc Newsletter!

The DiStruc fellows continue to make excellent progress. Scientifically results keep coming in, which leads to more and more papers being submitted and published. Furthermore, the "Squishy Soft Science" held in Oxford last summer has been awarded an Outreach Prize, the mid-term review meeting went very well and the 4th Playing Colloidal Mikado workshop organised by the DiStruc fellows was a success! Please read on. 
Dirk Aarts
DiStruc Co-ordinator, University of Oxford


Best Outreach Prize awarded to three DiStruc fellows

Early in November 2016, the DiStruc fellows applied for the Outreach Prize awarded by the Cost Action 'Flowing Matter' (MP1305). The fellows elected three representatives who then prepared an application for the Squishy Soft Science event. Their dedication and hard work paid off: We are excited to announce that they have won the Best Outreach Prize for 2016! Shari Finner (Eindhoven University of Technology), Marie Föllmer (CANOE) and Max Tortora (University of Oxford) traveled  to Porto, Portugal for the prize ceremony at the end of January.
Info: The Squishy Soft Science event took place in Christ Church, Oxford, in July. It was an outreach event with hands-on demonstrations designed for children aged 7-14. Check our time-lapse video to refresh your memory. 

Playing Colloidal Mikado Workshops


The Playing Colloidal Mikado workshop series brings together experimentalists and theoreticians working in the field of Soft Matter. The aim of these workshops is to discuss current developments and advances in the chemistry and physics of non-spherical colloidal particles with a focus on colloidal rods. 
The 4th workshop of the series took place in Bordeaux on 16-17 November 2016. It was organised by the DiStruc fellows who made the programme, invited the speakers, produced all the workshop material and took care of all the financial and organisational aspects. We would like to thank all the speakers, the participants and the DiStruc fellows for their great work! 

The 5th Playing Colloidal Mikado workshop will take place in Heraklion, Greece in the summer of 2017. The fellows will have the opportunity to present their work. For more information, stay tuned!   
More info

Heraklion, June 2017

The next DiStruc meeting will take place in Heraklion, Greece during the summer of 2017. It will be organised and hosted by FORTH and will include the 5th Playing Colloidal Mikado workshop, the progress meeting (only for the members of the DiStruc network) and a transferable skills training session.
We look forward to seeing you there!  

Hot off the press

Louis Cortes (University of Oxford) published the second peer-reviewed paper of DiStruc, entitled 'Colloidal liquid crystals in square confinement: isotropic, nematic and smectic phases', in the Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter
Imagine you’ve got a bunch of matches and you need to pack them into a matchbox. That’s an easy challenge, unless each match is constantly moving around (due to Brownian motion) and they need to align along any of the walls of the matchbox. If you only need to fit a handful of rods it’s still ok, but at higher densities the rods will all want to point in one direction, which is impossible given the boundary conditions. At even higher concentrations they want to pack in layers, which forms another complicating factor.
Importantly, such packing problems occur in nature and technology: for example, think about the confinement of actin filaments in biological cells or the packing of liquid crystals in each pixel of your phone’s screen. Our experiments shine light on the possible patterns which form and on the applicability of continuum theories down to these small lengthscales.

Louis B G Cortes, Yongxiang Gao, Roel P A Dullens and Dirk G A L Aarts, Colloidal liquid crystals in square confinement: isotropic, nematic and smectic phases, J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 29, 2017  
More publications are under way- we will keep you posted! 
Read more

Bordeaux, November 2016  

The fourth DiStruc meeting was held in Bordeaux, on 14-18 November 2016 and it was hosted by CNRS-CRPP. It included the by now established progress meeting, where all the fellows presented their individual projects.
All fellows are progressing extremely well and the informal discussions following their presentations lead to new ideas and potential collaborations. The Mid-term review meeting was held on the 15th of November, in the presence of our Project officer and the external monitor appointed by REA. It was followed by the 4th Playing Colloidal Mikado workshop (16-17/11), which was organised by the DiStruc fellows, and included a very interesting visit to Château Pape Clément, one of the oldest Grands Crus of Bordeaux. Finally the week ended with a highly stimulating day of industrial training at the premises of CANOE-ADERA.
Check out the related video on our YouTube channel
More info

Mid-term review meeting

The Mid-term review meeting (MTR) of DiStruc took place on Tuesday the 15th of November 2016. The purpose of the MTR was to meet the project team, assess the fulfillment of scientific, training, management and networking aspects of the project, as well as discussing any arising problems and finding solutions. As such, it is considered a unique opportunity for a constructive dialogue between the network participants and the Research Executive Agency (REA) and is a valuable source of feedback to both the consortium and the REA.
The day started with the presentation of the Mid-term report by the coordinator, Prof Dirk Aarts, and was followed by short presentations by the PIs of all the participating teams. The REA Project Officer, Ms Athina Zampara, gave a presentation on MSCA ITNs. The DiStruc fellows introduced themselves and their work and finally, the Project Officer, together with the External Monitor appointed by REA, Prof Lidija Matija, had a closed session with the fellows. Overall it was a very constructive and successful meeting. 

Public Engagement

 Fête de la Science 2016 

The "Fête de la science" is a national event in France founded by the ministry of education. With more than 3000 exhibitions and demonstrations, an exchange between visitors of all ages and researchers from all scientific fields is stimulated in all regions of France. The 25th edition of the “Fête de la science” took place from 8-16 October 2016. During two days, the Centre de Recherche Paul Pascal welcomed more than 20 school classes from different age groups in order to give them an insight into their activities. The DiStruc fellows Andrii Repula and Marie Föllmer participated in these activities: Andrii demonstrated optical levitation of particles by a laser beam to the students, while Marie presented the properties and applications of carbon nanotubes.
Find out more

Researcher's night 2016

The European Researchers' Night takes place every year all over Europe on the last Friday of September. This year, the events took place on Friday 30 September in over 250 cities and attracted more than 1,5m visitors. One such event was organised in the Foundation for Research and Technology – Hellas in Heraklion (Crete) and the DiSturc fellows Lucille Chambon and Mohandas represented the DiStruc network. 

Read more

About DiStruc

DiStruc (Directed Structure at the mesoscale) is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network funded by the EU. The goals of DiStruc are three-fold: (i) scientifically, to understand and direct structure formation in dispersions of elongated colloidal particles by internal and external means; (ii) practically, to exploit this knowledge for rational product development of fast moving consumer goods and high-performance fibres; (iii) to train the next generation of European researchers at the highest level with a multidisciplinary academic and industrial skill set. DiStruc runs for four years (2015-2018), and brings together partners from 6 different European countries including universities, research institutions and industries.

Dates for your diary

  • 26-27 June 2017 - 5th Playing Colloidal Mikado workshop
  • 26-30 June 2017 - DiStruc meeting in Heraklion, Greece
  • 4-8 December 2017 - DiStruc meeting in Jülich, Germany

In the next Issue:

  • News from our Fellows
  • Hot off the press
  • 5th Playing Colloidal Mikado Workshop: Dates, invited speakers and more information
This issue was edited by Dirk Aarts, Louis Cortes & Irini Hatzimichali 
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No 641839.
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