Will Foster - North East

Will graduated from the University of Manchester in 2015 with a MPhys in Physics. During his Masters year he worked in the liquid crystals group studying the unique electro-optic properties of biaxial crystals. For this work he was awarded the departmental Platt Prize for the best experimental work in the final year of the degree programme.

He then moved to Durham to join the Soft Matter and Functional Interfaces CDT (SOFI), a collaboration between the Universities of Durham, Leeds and Edinburgh. As part of SOFI he spent 6 months training with 14 other PhD students tackling case studies set by external industrial partners. Highlights include learning about the science of ice-cream and working on water purification systems.

As of April 2016, Will has been working in the Durham Physics Soft Matter Group on his PhD supervised by Dr Kislon Voïtchovsky and Dr Halim Kusumaatmaja. His interests lie in investigating the self-assembly of water and alcohol mixtures at solid interfaces. Aside from his research he also writes for the SOFI newsletter as well as assisting in its design.

Cocktail Science: Molecular organisation of water and alcohol mixtures at solid interfaces

When enjoying a cocktail the last thing you might think about is research, but in fact the mixture inside your glass is scientifically fascinating and has important applications beyond the world of mixology. For example, in water-alcohol mixtures it is known that the alcohol induces dramatic changes in the topology of the water hydrogen-bonding network. Furthermore, hydrophobic surfaces cause water-alcohol mixtures to spontaneously nucleate solid 2D supramolecular monolayer assemblies at the solid-liquid interface. These monolayers are stabilized by networks of hydrogen bonds and demonstrate remarkable levels of stability. The nucleation of these monolayers is interesting and relevant for both fundamental science and industry where many interfacial processes involve water-alcohol mixtures.

In this talk I will explain the occurrence of this phenomenon, present investigations into other novel structures using Atomic Force Microscopy and Molecular Dynamics simulations and show how studying the science of your drink reveals exciting possibilities for creating nanostructures.


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