Soft materials

Soft materials are materials that can be easily deformed by thermal stresses or thermal fluctuations at about room temperature. Soft materials include liquids, polymers, foams, gels, colloids, granular materials, as well as most soft biological materials.

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Latest Research and Reviews

  • Research
    | Open Access

    Droplet self-propulsion on surfaces with wetting gradients is relevant for wide-ranging practical applications, and such motion is typically unidirectional. Here, the authors show how bidirectional motion of droplets can be achieved and controlled on liquid-infused surfaces with texture gradients.

    • Muhammad Subkhi Sadullah
    • , Gaby Launay
    • , Jayne Parle
    • , Rodrigo Ledesma-Aguilar
    • , Yonas Gizaw
    • , Glen McHale
    • , Gary George Wells
    •  & Halim Kusumaatmaja
  • Research |

    The authors investigate the role of spherical confinement and curvature-induced topological defects on the crystallization of charged colloids. They conclude that crystallization in spherical confinement is due to a combination of thermodynamics and kinetic pathways.

    • Yanshuang Chen
    • , Zhenwei Yao
    • , Shixiang Tang
    • , Hua Tong
    • , Taiki Yanagishima
    • , Hajime Tanaka
    •  & Peng Tan
  • Research
    | Open Access

    Macroscopic architectures of covalent organic frameworks (COF) allow to fully exploit their chemical functionality and porosity but achieving three-dimensional hierarchical porous COF architectures remains challenging. Here, the authors present a COF/reduced graphene oxide aerogel which is synthesized by growing COF during a hydrothermal process along the surface of graphene sheets.

    • Changxia Li
    • , Jin Yang
    • , Pradip Pachfule
    • , Shuang Li
    • , Meng-Yang Ye
    • , Johannes Schmidt
    •  & Arne Thomas
  • Research
    | Open Access

    Molecular self-assembly provides the desired functions to substrates, but investigation and control of its dynamics is challenging for the large area over which it must be detected. Here the authors report the use of graphene field effect devices to monitor with sub-second time resolution the photoinduced supramolecular assembly of a spiropyran derivative on graphene, covering an area of 100 × 100 μm2.

    • Marco Gobbi
    • , Agostino Galanti
    • , Marc-Antoine Stoeckel
    • , Bjorn Zyska
    • , Sara Bonacchi
    • , Stefan Hecht
    •  & Paolo Samorì

News and Comment

  • News and Views |

    Polymeric glasses with significant thermodynamic and kinetic stability have been fabricated using physical vapour deposition, providing a mean to gather insight into the properties of glasses aged for millions of years.

    • Juan J. de Pablo
    Nature Materials 19, 1041-1042
  • News and Views |

    Controlling the formation of ordered and predictable patterns in dissipative reaction–diffusion processes is challenging. Now, liquid vibrations induced by audible sound have been shown to direct the formation of spatiotemporal patterns in switchable chemical systems and assemblies.

    • Charalampos G. Pappas
    Nature Chemistry 12, 784-785
  • News and Views |

    It’s not known how life’s essential properties of replication, metabolism and compartmentalization were first integrated. Two recent articles now shed light on how metabolic characteristics may be incorporated into replicating systems, harnessing an external energy source to increase their rate of replication and acquiring catalytic activity.

    • Pablo Solís-Muñana
    •  & Jack L. Y. Chen
    Nature Chemistry 12, 585-587
  • News and Views |

    Programmable DNA hybridization is used to mediate the self-assembly of substrate-bound DNA-grafted gold nanoparticles into single-crystalline Winterbottom and non-Winterbottom constructions with particular size, shape and orientation.

    • Chang Liu
    •  & Qian Chen
    Nature Materials 19, 704-705