Researcher Marianne Liebi
Marianne Liebi is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Department of Physics at Chalmers. She has been awarded a prestigious starting grant of EUR 1,5 million from the European Research Council (ERC). ​​​​​
​Photo: Anna Wallin

She dives into complex materials – in a new way

​​Is it possible to study the structure of a complex material without looking at it directly? The coming five years, Marianne Liebi will tackle that challenge together with colleagues at Chalmers and Empa, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology. ​​​​​​
The basic idea is to study the material’s interactions with electromagnetic waves. The researchers will use both visible light and X-rays in their work.
Marianne Liebi is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Department of Physics at Chalmers and her new research programme “MUMOTT” recently received a prestigious starting grant of EUR 1,5 million from the European Research Council (ERC). 

“This will enable us to study and apprehend the structure of complex hierarchical materials, for example human bones and tissues, but also composite materials. With the new methodology we could, for example, solve critical problems in materials and bioscience and shed light on the disruptive collagen network in liver fibrosis, ”says Marianne Liebi.

In her research so far, she has studied how, for example, the smallest building blocks in bone tissue, collagen fibrils organize. At Chalmers the doctoral student Leonard Nielsen will perform work within the MUMOTT project, in particular related to tensor tomography code development. At Empa the activities will be conducted at the Department of “Materials meet Life”, where Marianne Liebi is the Scientific Group leader of "Hierarchical Systems", which is part of the Center for X-ray Analytics.

Text: Mia Halleröd Palmgren, mia.hallerodpalmgren@chalmers.se​

Read the press release on the ERC Starting Grants 2020  - for talented early-career scientists

Read an earlier news article about Marianne Liebi and her research:

Abstract of Marianne Liebi’s project “MUMOTT”

"Capture structures without looking at them directly, but rather by probing their interaction with electromagnetic waves - this is the basic principle for the new multi-modal tensor tomography developed in this research programme. It will enable to study the arrangement of nanostructures in macroscopic samples, six orders of magnitude larger than its building blocks, allowing to apprehend the structure of complex hierarchical materials. 

I will use visible light observing change in their polarization state as well as the scattering of hard X-rays to probe nanostructure. Both modes capture alignment of nanostructure, while complementary in other aspects e.g. high penetration depth of synchrotron radiation and easy accessibility of laboratory polarimetric setups.
 
At the core of MUMOTT lays the development of the methodological framework implemented in an open-source software package allowing for the reconstruction of tensors in each sub-volume or voxel of the three-dimensional tomogram. Whereas in a first step I will work out a general approach, we will incorporate flexible modules to capture details of the different types of interaction. This approach includes method development pushing the boundaries of traditional synchrotron methods to make full use of the high brilliance and coherence of the new generation of synchrotrons coming online as well as the enabling of studies with lab-based equipment. It opens up for addressing new scientific problems by widening the range of materials as well as the user community. 

Apart from the methodology framework we will implement the different modes to prove their capability to solve critical problems in materials and bio-science; to investigate the structure of light-weight composites based on cellulose nanofibrils, reveal how the arrangement of nanoparticles in a plasmonic composite is connected to its sensing capabilities, as well as shed light on the disruptive collagen network in liver fibrosis."

Published: Thu 03 Sep 2020.