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Smart Materials: Microscale and Macroscale Approaches

St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University via Coursera


Smart materials represent a cutting-edge global trend both in fundamental science and emerging technologies. Smart materials science is a truly interdisciplinary area at the intersection of physics, chemistry, chemical engineering, mathematical simulations, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and etc. An online course in smart materials will be of obvious interest for everyone who is interested in modern materials science and emerging trends in engineering, biotechnology, and medicine.
A broad variety of materials are actually considered as smart ones: from shape memory alloys to polymer nanosystems. We expect that the Coursera audience will benefit from a compact and simple online course that integrates specific modern aspects and trends of fabrication, modification, characterization, and applications of smart materials.

With this course, we would like to introduce specific aspects of an exciting interdisciplinary area “Smart Materials” in a way it can be easily understood by a broad audience. We will focus on how remarkable properties of smart materials correlate with simple structural features at nanoscale and microscale, discuss various methods to characterize materials with smart properties. We will highlight inspiring trends in applications of smart materials. For a microscale approach, we offer the Lab on a Chip technology and tell a story on to use microfluidic chips for fabricating smart systems. For a macroscale approach, we introduce modern analytical methods that are used to characterize smart materials
We expect that this course will be interesting for a broad audience that is keen to learn more about how smart materials contribute to well-established and emerging technologies.


  • Smart Materials: Key Concepts
    • The module focuses on the key concepts of smart materials. We discuss the definition of smart materials, perform an overview of materials with smart properties, and offer specific terminology that you can learn with the Quizlet platform.
  • Behind Smart Properties
    • The module focuses on nanoscale and microscale features behind the properties of smart materials. You will see that the majority of smart properties root in the nanoscale organization of matter and supramolecular interactions.
  • Smart Materials: Research Methods
    • This module introduces macroscale research methods that can be useful for characterization of smart materials. We subdivide research techniques into three main groups: microscopy, spectroscopy, and numerical methods. We also perform experiments with real smart materials.
  • Lab on chip for smart materials
    • In this module, we focus on an exciting microscale approach to fabrication, modification, and characterization of smart materials, that is microfluidics. We will learn how to fabricate microfluidic chips, simulate microfluidic processes, and perform experiments with soft matter in confinement.
  • From properties to applications: inspiring trends
    • This module finalizes the course by introducing trends in applications of smart materials. We will discuss both well-established and emerging technologies that use smart materials such as shape memory alloys, target drug delivery systems, liquid crystals, and quantum dots.

Taught by

Yury Galyametdinov, Fedor Senatov and Artem Bezrukov

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