We do a lot of research with clear application potential, sometimes with true breakthrough potential in solving future societal problems, and you might think that the applications and the problems were the driving force for the research. The truth is entirely different: every single project of ours started out in pure curiosity-driven fundamental soft matter physics research. This is by no means anything unique to our group's research. If you look at the history of technological breakthroughs that have changed the world, you might be surprised to see how often the fundamental discovery making a new technology possible had absolutely nothing to do with the technology, but was simply borne out of pure scientific curiosity, serendipity often playing a key role,

If you think about it, you may realize that it actually is not so surprising: if you start from the problem and try to solve it, you are stuck with the tools that are currently available to you. This may still produce ingenious solutions based on those tools, but quantum leaps are unlikely (the exception being when a creative mind comes up with an entirely new way to use a tool). Fundamental research starts with a different problem: the basic one of understanding our world a bit better. And when you understand a phenomenon, or discover a new one and then learn to explain its origin, you have created a new tool. That's when you start talking with people from other fields and explore if this new tool may find use to solve a big problem you may not have been aware of. If you don't do this, you need to rely on serendipity for your tool to find its problem; history tells that this works, but talking with each other is faster than relying on chance. By working together across disciplines, leveraging the results of free curiosity-driven fundamental research, truly game-changing new technological solutions arise. It has happened many times in history and our hope is that we may be contributing to some of the future solutions. This page is to remind us, when the solution is available and being used, that it was not borne out of a desire to solve a problem, but curiosity was first!
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