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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.


In September, the poster "Investigating superquadric shapes for packing purposes" by Roel Baars won the second prize at the Jam-Packed conference in Erlangen, Germany. The poster presented a new and very general type of particle shape to use in computer simulations. One mathematical formula, the superquadric, could be used to simulate a great many different types of particles: spheres, ellipsoids, cubes, platelets and intermediate shapes. A new method to detect overlapping particles was also presented. Simulation of these kind of particles help us to understand the behavior of materials on both macroscopic and microscopic scale.

On May 16, 2014 the Van 't Hoff laboratory for Physical and Colloid Chemistry celebrated 110 years. For a report of this celebration click here.

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.



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!).