The incredible technological advancements we have witnessed in the last two centuries have improved the living conditions and life expectancy of a great fraction of the world population. As a result, today 7.6 billion people populate the world, as compared to 1 billion in 1804. Whether the population will further grow or plateau is still under discussion. What is certain instead, is that we need to address issues in at least five different fields: energy, environment, medicine, food and sustainability.

A great number of materials and processes relevant to these applications involve the assem-bly of sub-units (molecules or particles) into larger structures. For instance, i) the durability of sustainable, bio-renewable materials, is affected by the rate with which monomers polymerize into a chain length distribution, ii) the onset of neurodegenerative diseases is affected by how amyloid proteins combine into a fibril length distribution, and iii) the solar panel efficiency is controlled through the conversion of precursor molecules into semiconducting nanoparticles of a given size distribution. The kinetic rates and mechanisms through which these initial ”building blocks” combine, regulate the size distribution and the compactness (i.e. the fractality) of the arising assemblies, that affect material properties and process performance.

The present talk aims at elucidating how the combination of experimental results with a mathematical framework based on deterministic models expose the phenomena regulating as- sembly, discriminating among different on-going mechanisms and quantifying them. To prove the versatility of this methodology, very different systems, comprising polymer degradation, protein fibrillation and nanoparticle formation, will be discussed.

Speaker’s Profile

Dr Stefano Lazzari is a postdoctoral Fellow at the Chemical Engineering Department at MIT (USA). In 2014, I earned my PhD in Chemical and Bioengineering at ETH Zurich (Switzerland).

My research and teaching interests are in the areas of colloid assembly, kinetic modeling, crystallization, nanoparticles, biodegradable polymers, and polymer reaction engineering. Both my B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Chemical Engineering were earned at Politecnico di Milano (Italy). Among my honors include: two postdoctoral fellowships from the Swiss National Science Foundation (2016 and 2014), one Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher fellowship (2010) & the Langmuir Award for best oral presentation at the European Colloid and Interface Society Conference in 2016.

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