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Physical and Colloid Chemistry

Physical and Colloid Chemistry

The Laboratory

The Van 't Hoff Laboratory is part of the Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science and the department of Chemistry of the Utrecht University. The Debye Institute is a collaboration between groups of the department of Chemistry and the department of Physics and Astronomy.

Research Statement

The research theme of the Physical and Colloid Chemistry Group is the self-organization of colloids and nanoparticles in liquid media. In particular we are interested in the structure and formation dynamics of (liquid) crystals and random packings of colloidal spheres, rods, and plates. More recently we started working on dipolar magnetic structures, patchy colloids, solid-stabilized emulsions, inorganic macromolecules, and virus capsids. Our research can roughly be divided into three parts:

  1. development of new model systems (which includes chemical synthesis);
  2. study of the structure and dynamics of dispersions of colloids or nanoparticles by scattering of X-rays, neutrons and light as well as analytical ultracentrifugation and optical and electron microscopy;
  3. development of theoretical models. Throughout we demonstrate how to control colloidal interactions to manipulate the structure and properties of chemically complex systems, which has ramifications not only for fundamental science, but also for chemical technology.


Inauguration Prof. Remco Tuinier

On 18 February 2014, Remco Tuinier gave his inaugural lecture – Kolloïden, Kennis, Kunde en Kassa (Colloids, Knowledge, Science and Cash) – to mark his appointment as Special Professor (“bijzonder hoogleraar”) at Utrecht University. The text of his lecture (in Dutch) is available on request. Remco is DSM’s Principal Scientist for Colloids & Interfaces at ACES, part of the DSM ChemTech R&D Center. See also and

On Februari 11 the third poster prize was awarded to Chris Evers et al. at the NWO Study Group Meeting in Veldhoven. The prizewinning poster presented results on colloidal self-organizing systems, which spontaneously form well-defined structures from individual building blocks. These results can possibly be used to improve our understanding of the physical chemistry behind self-organization in nature, which includes for example the formation of viral capsids from proteins.

The poster “Self-Assembly of Colloidal Hematite Cubes: From Ordered Layers to Single Crystals” of Janne-Mieke Meijer et al. won the second poster prize at the Physics@FOM in January 2014, where almost 400 posters were displayed. The poster presented results of a detailed study of the self-organization of colloidal cubes using a combination of advanced synchrotron techniques: small-angle x-ray scattering and hard x-ray microscopy. The study is performed for a variety of cube systems, where the particle size, their coating and the solvent were varied. This showed that the cubes flat faces cause alignment and the formation of short to long-range ordered layered structures. Additional alignment in an external magnetic field caused the formation of a single BCM crystal. The result opens up the possibility to assemble colloidal lattices with novel symmetries which can prove useful for development of new nanomaterials.

The Utrecht Van 't Hoff Laboratory for Physical and Colloid Chemistry celebrates 110 years
One hundred and ten years ago, in Utrecht on May 16, 1904 our laboratory was opened by its namegiver J.H. van ’t Hoff (1852-1911). On Friday May 16, 2014 we will celebrate this event with a one-day symposium on the life and work of Ernst Cohen (1869-1944). Cohen was the initiator of the Utrecht Van ’t Hoff Laboratory and its first director until his retirement in 19391).
The one-day symposium will be held in the Booth Hall of the Utrecht University Library, Heidelberglaan 3. Program and time schedule: to be announced.
Participation is free but you are required to register in view of the catering for lunch, the drinks (‘borrel’) after the symposium and the limited number of seats in the Booth Lecture Hall.
Please register at the secretary of the Van ‘t Hoff Laboratory, Marina Uit de Bulten-Weerensteijn, email:

Prof. Albert Philipse (

1)  Recently Cohen’s auto-biographical notes were published; the many personal memories of this networker avant la lettre almost provide a who-is-who in the chemistry and physics of Cohen’s time. The notes also reveal the story behind the conception and birth of the Van’t Hoff Laboratory. See: E. Cohen, Na driekwart eeuw; levensherinneringen, Redactie Frits Broeyer en Leen Dorsman (Stichting Marijs, Utrecht 2013).



Nanoseminar: Meetings are held on Fridays from 13.15—14.15
FCC Group Meetings: Meetings are held on Tuesdays from 9.30—10.30 am in Kruyt W728

Information for Employees

Employee information can also be found on FCCNet (local access only!).