Naam S Dussi PhD

OrganisatieDepartement Agrotechnologie en Voedingswetenschappen
OrganisatieeenheidPhysical Chemistry and Soft Matter
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BezoekadresStippeneng 4
PostadresPostbus 8038


I studied Physics at “La Sapienza” University in Rome, with a special attention to physics of matter, statistical mechanics and computational techniques. In my Master project, supervised by prof. Francesco Sciortino, I developed and employed state-of-the-art simulation techniques to study the competition between the self-assembly into finite-size structures (such as chains and rings) and the gas-liquid phase separation in charged dumbbell-like particles. (read paper)

Afterwards, I moved to Utrecht (NL) where in a very stimulating, interdisciplinary and international environment, I obtained my PhD cum laude (highest grade) (link to PhD thesis) under the supervision of prof. Marjolein Dijkstra. Computer simulations were my main tools of investigation to study phase transitions in suspensions of colloidal particles. Nevertheless, I often relied on predictions obtained by a novel density functional theory, that I developed in collaboration with the theoretical physics group leaded by prof. René van Roij. For a variety of colloidal systems, I managed to identify several design rules based on how microscopic details (e.g particle chirality, biaxiality) are related to the macroscopic self-assembly into liquid crystals. At the same time, I collaborated with the experimentalists supervised by prof. Alfons van Blaaderen in the study of icosahedral clusters formed by colloids confined in emulsion droplets, and on the sedimentation of mixture of silica rods and spheres.

From February 2017, I am a postdoc in the Physical Chemistry and Soft Matter group of Prof. Jasper van der Gucht. My research is part of the SoftBreak project, where we aim to unravel the microscopic processes that lead to mechanical failure of soft polymer networks. Together with Justin Tauber, I developed a simulation framework to study the mechanical behaviour of disordered materials. I was able to support the interpretation of experiments on delayed fracture in synthetic polymer gels. Furthermore, in collaboration with the group of prof. Gijsje Koenderink (AMOLF), we studied hybrid biopolymer networks to shed new light into tissue mechanics. Currently, we are finalizing several studies on elasticity and fracture using a range of simulation techniques for single and double polymer networks.


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I am working on several projects related to nonlinear elastic response and fracture in disordered materials, such as polymer networks. Previously, my research focused on colloidal suspensions and liquid crystals.

! We have projects for Bachelor/Master thesis or internship, here one example !


Strain-stiffening in biopolymer double networks

We collaborated with Federica Burla and prof. Gijsje Koenderink (AMOLF, Amsterdam), who performed experiments on biopolymer double network. By combining mechanical measurements and computer simulations, we showed that networks composed of collagen fibres and a hyaluronan matrix exhibit synergistic mechanics characterized by an enhanced stiffness and delayed strain-stiffening. We demonstrated that the polysaccharide matrix has a dual effect on the composite response involving both internal stress and elastic reinforcement. Our findings elucidate how tissues can tune their strain-sensitivity over a wide range and provide a novel design principle for synthetic materials with programmable mechanical properties. [read paper in Nature Physics]


Delayed fracture in elastomers

Experiments in our group studied the delayed fracture occurring in soft solids (elastomers) using a novel optical scattering technique, namely Laser Speckel Strain Imaging (LSSI). Experimental observation were complemented by spring network simulations featuring bond softening and breaking combined with stochastic rules to implicitly describe thermal fluctuations and time evolution. We observed damage localization, damage growth and increasing dynamics in the system before a macroscopic crack nucleates. These simulations allowed a connection between the increase in space and time of a surprisingly large deformation zone detected by LSSI and the actual damage zone. [read paper in Science Advances]


Coming soon:

Articles on the following topics are in preparation/submitted:

  • Fracture of collagen networks: simulations and experiments
  • Size-induced brittleness in athermal disordered networks
  • Machine learning techniques to predict fracture
  • Rationalize the toughening mechanism behind polymer double networks


My research interests include:

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