Soft composites are complex advanced materials which are designed to perform differently and to perform better, in particular in optic, photonic, and nano-technological applications. Our Centre-of-Excellence research module joined partners from different backgrounds and expertise –physics, optics, chemistry, nano-sciences & optics- to contribute, as part of the CoE NAMASTE, to the fundamental goal of developing advanced materials and technologies for the future. Here, in this booklet, we showcase several selected highlights of our work –some concepts are worldwide first-, including colloidal microscopic knots and links, efficient and tuneable droplet resonators, 3D omnidirectional lasers, laser induced printing of optical defects, fluid driven self-assembly of 3D colloidal crystals, actuated elastomers for artificial muscles, nanomaterial additives for lubricant oils, and optical LCD shutters for eye protection.

Our module aimed at exploiting our expertise in the field of mesogenic soft matter and anorganic nanostructures to develop ground for new high-tech applications. The achievements of our experimental condensed matter physics labs for Soft Matter, Surfaces, and Nanostructures at Jožef Stefan Institute, theoretical&modelling group for Soft Matter Theory & Simulations at the Faculty for Mathematics and Physics at University of Ljubljana, and partner companies Balder and Nanotul are at the top edge of science and applications in these fields. We develop novel complex materials with specific targeted optic, photonic, electronic, and mechanic properties. Particularly important is large susceptibility of the materials to external stimuli, like optic, electric, and mechanic fields, as it is of central importance for applications. The academic research is complemented by the work and development in two partner companies. The high-tech company Balder d.o.o. successfully competes at a world level and controls a large share of the world market in special liquid crystal light shutters for personal eye protection. The small spin-off company Nanotul is active in the field of inorganic nanoparticles and nanofibers. Central to the work of partners is multidisciplinarity of the fields (condensed matter, surfaces, soft matter, nanoparticles) and complementarity in the approaches (experiments, theory, modeling, simulations, technology, and marketing). In summary, our project is a successful synergy, which developed and can further develop molecular, mesoscopic and macroscopic soft composite materials useable and to be used in optic, photonic, actuation, and sensor devices, as acknowledged by multiple international standards, awards, publications, patents and simple personal responses of top-edge international experts.

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