Self-assembly can be described as a dynamic process present in nature that has long been used for the evolution of living organisms, but is still scarcely understood by modern science. The main reason being that self-assembly is generally studied under equilibrium conditions (thermodynamic control) which hinders new advances in the design of functional materials.
Despite the remarkable progress made in materials engineering, the quest for a technology to study and kinetically control self-assembled processes is still incomplete. Like in nature, only through kinetic controlled conditions we can achieve materials with a rationalized function and efficiency; a result that will open new horizons in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.
In the last years, my group has shown that control reaction-diffusion conditions given in microfluidic devices allow for an extraordinary kinetic control over self-assembly (group website http://puigmartisgroup.com/). We have proved that microfluidic devices (where mixing occurs only through molecular diffusion) can be used to generate, isolate and study out-of-equilibrium structures (which is crucial to understand and control self-assembly); to engineer unprecedented functional materials; and further, to localize and control self-assembly processes on surfaces. Our multidisciplinary approach is unique not only in Spain but also internationally. For example, and as proof of the impact and international recognition to our work, I have been invited as visiting Professor at the University of Angers (France, 2017), at Kyoto University (Japan 2017, 2018 and 2019), and also, I have been appointed a Chair of Excellence at the University of Grenoble Alpes (2019). The Chair will allow me to establish a new group in Grenoble during three years. As shown by my track record of publications and awarded projects in the last 5 years (see my CV), I am very ambitious in planning my research pathway, addressing challenges that go beyond the state-of-the-art.