Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates

Check out general updates on the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation from

Chemical Society Seminar: Esther Amstad - Drops: A bio-inspired tool to structure materials


Zoom link:


Nature produces soft materials possessing exceptional mechanical properties. These properties are to a large extent related to the well-defined structures and locally varying compositions of these natural materials. Key to the excellent control nature possesses over the structure and local composition of its materials is their fabrication: Many of these materials are formed from compartmentalized reagents that are transported to the desired locations where they are released locally. Inspired by nature, we use emulsion drops as compartments to build macroscopic granular hydrogels. In this talk, I will demonstrate how we convert individually dispersed emulsion drops into selectively permeable viscoelastic capsules that enable controlled localized release of reagents. These capsules are most frequently employed as individually dispersed delivery vehicles. In the second part of this talk, I will demonstrate how we go one step beyond the current use of capsules by converting them into inks that we 3D print into strong and tough double network granular hydrogels.


Esther Amstad studied material science at ETH in Zurich where she also carried out her PhD thesis under the supervision of Prof. Marcus Textor (2007-2011). Her thesis was devoted to the steric stabilization of iron oxide nanoparticles. As a Postdoctoral fellow, she joined the experimental soft condensed matter group of David A. Weitz at Harvard University (2011-2014). She developed new microfluidic devices to study early stages of the crystallization of nanoparticles and to produce drops of well-defined sizes at high throughputs. Since 2014, she is Tenure Track Assistant Professor at the institute of Materials at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland, where she heads the Soft Materials Laboratory (SMAL). Inspired by nature, her research team studies the influence of the compartmentalization of reagents on the structure and properties of the materials that are formed from them. Leveraging this knowhow, the Amstad lab develops drop-based processes to fabricate adaptable strong and tough granular materials.

The education of the next generation of scientists and engineers is important to Esther Amstad. She developed a new Soft Matter course that is a compulsory Master course for EPFL Material Science students where she highlights the importance of biomaterials. Moreover, she regularly organizes biomaterial-related conferences.

Contact Information

Matthew Harrington
McGill University
Matt.Harrington [at]
Back to top