Defects and defect engineering in Soft Matter
Soft matter covers a wide range of materials based on linear or branched polymers, gels and rubbers, amphiphilic (macro)molecules, colloids, and self-assembled structures. These materials have applications in various industries, all highly important for our daily life, and they control all biological functions; therefore, controlling and tailoring their properties is crucial. One way to approach this target is defect engineering, which aims to control defects in the material's structure, and/or to purposely add defects into it to trigger specific functions. While this approach has been a striking success story in crystalline inorganic hard matter, both for mechanical and electronic properties, and has also been applied to organic hard materials, defect engineering is rarely used in soft matter design. In this review, we present a survey on investigations on defects and/or defect engineering in nine classes of soft matter composed of liquid crystals, colloids, linear polymers with moderate degree of branching, hyperbranched polymers and dendrimers, conjugated polymers, polymeric networks, self-assembled amphiphiles and proteins, block copolymers and supramolecular polymers. This overview proposes a promising role of this approach for tuning the properties of soft matter.