The International Research Training Group (IRTG) “Soft Matter Science: Concepts for the Design of Functional Materials” is both an interdisciplinary and international research programme and a doctoral college between the Universities of Strasbourg and Freiburg (working with colleagues from Basel and Mulhouse). This research programme does not stop at scientific collaboration between the partner universities of the Upper Rhine region but opens up to the entire international soft matter community. Thus, several internationally renowned researchers have been invited to share their experience with the teams involved in the Soft Matter Science IRTG. Furthermore, regular seminars are organised either in Freiburg or in Strasbourg to intensify working relationships between researchers involved in the IRTG as well as other researchers in the soft matter scientific community. These seminars as well as other regular IRTG events (summer schools, workshops, training camps) allow doctoral candidates to acquire a wide range of scientific knowledge as well as “soft skills” which is important for the international employment market. Chemists, physicists, engineers and biologists from the four partner universities join forces to deepen knowledge in this essential field of nanosciences of materials.
Soft matter represents all systems that display very high sensitivity to external stresses. These systems tend to reorganise themselves, to self-assemble as soon as a stress is applied to them. Often these macroscopically observed changes come from a microscopic restructuring. Today, the main challenge is to understand and control the relationship between applied solicitations and the reaction of these systems on a macroscopic and microscopic scale. It is therefore a question of improving understanding in this research theme and developing new concepts to design materials with properties similar to those that exist in nature.