In the Zernike Institute Advent Calendar, we are presenting 24 short spotlights in December. In these specials, we highlight PhD students, postdocs, support staff, and technicians of our research groups and team - providing a glimpse in their typical day at work. In Episode 14 meet Gabor Ersek, PhD student in the
Physical Chemistry of Polymeric and Nanostructured Materials
of Prof. Giuseppe Portale.
In our day-to-day life, protective layers, films, and coatings might go unnoticed. However, they play a key role in various fields from packaging to safety. For their application, it is vital to understand how the structure of a coating is formed and how it relates to its properties.
My PhD project, at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen in the group of Physical Chemistry of Polymeric and Nanostructured Materials, aims to unwrap the structural changes that happen during the drying of water-based soft polymer dispersions. Moreover, together with the involved industrial partners (Covestro, BASF and ALTANA) in the framework of the SAM (Soft Advanced Materials) cluster, we work on establishing the link between the nanoscopic structure of various industrially relevant coatings and their properties. The most usual items on my to do list are therefore experimental design and data analysis.
Working on such topic, when the contrast is low and following the film formation process requires proper time resolution, often needs the application of synchrotron X-ray radiation. Due to this, I have multiple research trips every year, where I can enjoy the extraordinary working environment of a synchrotron facility. Luckily, this also allows me to make long lasting working connections in the process and usually I have time also to experience the local cuisine and do some sightseeing after the work is done.
What is more, during my project I can gain excellent insights into how to combine multiple characterization techniques to tell the story and collaborate with industrial partners in joined projects. All in all, I have the chance to see how science can shape the daily used materials.
Contact: Gabor Ersek
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