Student’s Spotlight – Tim Günter

Tim is a PhD at the Materials Physics divisions of Uppsala University. He works in the Soft Matter group on time- and interface dependent ordering processes of soft crystals.

His project can help with understanding how the microstructure of polymer micellar systems is affected by interfaces and mechanical strain. As a next step these effects will be connected to the macroscopic viscoelastic properties of the materials.

To study these effects, Tim applies a range of techniques, including neutron scattering and rheology. With rheology, the flow characteristics of a material can be probed on a larger scale which, by using appropriate models, allows to draw conclusions on the physics causing these. By using small angle neutron Scattering (SANS), Grazing incidence-SANS (GISANS) and Neutron reflectometry (NR), a more direct view on the structure is achieved. Combining both techniques with in-situ rheo-scattering experiments has been a key part of Tim’s project. As such, some interesting differences between the bulk and near-surface behavior have been identified.

The most enjoyable part of Tim’s work is learning about something that only very few people know about and that will ideally help many more people at some point in the future in their daily lives. This also includes the application of sophisticated techniques to study the materials of interest. It is as much of an interesting challenge to select an appropriate method and design an experiment as it is to draw conclusions out of the experiments.

In addition, working in the neutron world enables one to travel to many different places for beamtimes which exposes one to different work environments and cultures. While working together in common projects over such distances is challenging at times, it is in the end a very rewarding experience.

Despite the many positive aspects that such an international work environment brings with itself, Tim feels like this has also brought with it many challenges. This includes the travel to beamtimes, collaborators and conferences which interrupts the life at home regularly. Another aspect of that can be intimidating in a PhD at times is the shear amount of knowledge that has to ordered and put into the right context for such a project to succeed.