THOMAS H. EPPS, III
The primary focus of the Epps laboratory lies in designing, building, and characterizing new polymeric materials exhibiting molecular level self-assembly. Several applications for block copolymers and polymer blends under investigation in our group include: battery and fuel cell membranes, organic photovoltaics, analytical separations membranes, nanoscale containers and scaffolds for targeted drug delivery, precursors to electronic arrays, and surface responsive materials. We manipulate polymer internal and external interfacial characteristics in bulk and thin film environments to influence the ordering and stability of polymer structures. Assembly processes in our materials are explored with a comprehensive array of reciprocal space (small and wide-angle x-ray and neutron scattering), real space (optical, scanning probe, and electron microscopy), mechanical (dynamic mechanical analysis), and spectroscopic (x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, near-edge x-ray absorption fine structure, and infrared spectroscopy) techniques. Researchers in the group gain experience in chemistry, chemical engineering, materials science, and biology.
Our research is concerned with the modeling and simulation of flow processes, transport phenomena and flow-induced phase transitions in systems with a complex internal microstructure. Typical examples include the flow of polymer solutions and melts, turbulent flow, free-surface flows with surfactants, etc. Our primary concern is the interrelationship between the flow and the microstructure. Our approach in dealing with complex dynamic phenomena involving multiple scales in length and time is hierarchical. Our theoretical analysis starts from non-equilibrium thermodynamics considerations of the microstructure. Based on our recently developed modeling approach (see research monograph in the references below), a thermodynamically consistent macroscopic continuum description is achieved. For that, microscopic information is used, which is obtained from models in the literature or generated, as needed. Last, but not least, specific predictions on flow processes of interest are obtained through the use of analytical (i.e., stability analysis and bifurcation theory) and numerical methods (high performance computing simulations). Thus, considerable effort is devoted to the development of suitable numerical methods and their efficient implementation in state-of-the-art computer architectures (vector and parallel supercomputers).
First-principles calculations of solvation energies at high temperature; nucleation of aqueous aerosols; thermodynamics of doping and electronic properties of semiconductor photocatalytic materials; quantum chemical predictions of mechanisms and energetics of catalytic reactions for biofuel production; binding energies of metal ions in soils; theory of STM imaging for molecules adsorbed on semiconductor surfaces; electronic conductance of molecular adlayers on semiconductors.
ERIC M. FURST
Research in the Furst Group focuses on the physics and chemistry underlying the behavior of colloidal, polymeric, biomolecular, and other “soft” materials. Our efforts concentrate on investigations of structure, interactions and material response through the development of novel experimental techniques. These include optical tweezers, confocal microscopy, and passive and active microrheology. Applications of interest include nanomaterials for energy conversion, complex fluids engineering, and biotechnology. Many of the interesting problems we currently work on stem from close partnerships with industry and national laboratories.
The overarching goal of my group’s research is to develop and use molecular theory and simulations to elucidate microscopic phenomena governing macroscopic properties in polymers, and use that understanding to design and engineer novel materials for various applicaitons including organic photovoltaics, drug and gene delivery, etc.
Three main areas of interest include:
1. Self Assembly in Polymer Nanocomposites and Polymer Functionalized Nanoparticles
2. Designing Conjugated Polymers Based Materials for Organic Photovoltaics
3. Designing Soft Materials for Drug and Gene DeliveryJayaraman Faculty Page
KRISTI L. KIICK
The Kiick group investigates the synthesis, characterization, and application of biologically inspired and biologically produced materials. We are exploring the uses of protein- and peptide-based materials, bio-inorganic composites, and self-assembled networks in a variety of diverse applications such as toxin neutralization, viral inhibition, control of cellular responses, drug delivery, light-emitting films, and biomineralization. These projects exploit the control of polymer architecture afforded by protein engineering methods to permit synthesis of advanced materials for specific applications, and they employ a varied combination of materials synthesis and characterization methods.
CHRISTOPHER J. KLOXIN
Our primary research focus is on stimuli-responsive materials, which include light-actuated, environmentally adaptable, and self-healing materials, for applications ranging from low stress and healable dental restoratives to photo-induced delivery of gene therapeutics. We utilize an array of synthetic approaches, from basic organic synthetic reactions to controlled polymerization, to fabricate these novel materials.
The Korley Group research program focuses on the design of mechanically-enhanced, multi-functional materials inspired by biological materials, including the interplay between confined assembly and self-assembly, hierarchical architectures, and responsive phenomena. These lessons from nature have generated new polymeric materials, including peptide-polymer hybrids, fiber-reinforced hydrogels, supramolecular interpenetrating networks, hygromorphic composites, and polymer-reinforced gels, via strategic synthetic and manufacturing approaches. Targeted applications include drug delivery vehicles, tissue engineering scaffolds, soft actuators, and light management fibers.
ABRAHAM M. LENHOFF
Separations processes, biophysics and bioengineering, colloid and interface science, biomineralization, transport phenomena. The main goal of our research is to analyze, control and exploit molecular interactions involving proteins and colloidal particles. The motivation is initially to obtain improved quantitative insights into existing processes, leading to more effective methods for designing and using them, but an auxiliary objective is to develop new products and operations. These themes bring together a diverse collection of research activities, discussed below, involving theoretical and experimental work dealing with both the fundamentals – transport, kinetic and thermodynamic phenomena – and their interaction in the process environment. The path from molecular structure through continuum properties to process design represents the central paradigm in modern chemical engineering, but it has been applied much less extensively to species such as proteins than to small molecules; such processes as protein separations still depend very heavily on empirical methods for design and optimization.
EDWARD R. LYMAN
Associate Professor of Physics & Astronomy
The Lyman group uses molecular simulation, informed by theory and motivated by experiments, to understand how the unique environment provided by cell membranes is exploited for functional ends. Two areas are of current interest. (i) The role of lipidomic complexity in modulating G-protein coupled receptor signaling, across different cell types with different lipid compositions or as a result of perturbations, and the mechanism by which variations in lipidomes influence signaling. (ii) Motivated by recent experimental advances, which admit particle tracking in membranes with nanometer spatial resolution and microsecond time resolution, we have developed a molecular simulation approach (“STRD Martini”) which is both chemically detailed and faithful to the peculiar quasi2D hydrodynamics of the membrane, in order to distinguish among competing hypotheses for membrane spatiotemporal organization.
MICHAEL E. MACKAY
The thermodynamic interaction between nanoparticles and polymers is different to macroscopic systems, or even simple molecular mixtures, when the nanoparticle size approaches the polymeric building block (or monomer) length scale. This is primarily due to geometric and packing constraints imposed by the polymeric molecules’ inability to wrap around the particle. Interestingly, this can promote solubility of chemically dissimilar materials and the synthesis of new materials which is an area of active research in my group. Yet, even when solubility is promoted via nanoscale effects in the bulk it can be disturbed when the system is contained in a thin, supported film, say 100 nm in thickness. Here surface effects can promote nanoparticle assembly at either the solid substrate or air interface dependent on dielectric forces. In this case we use the self-assembly to make the next generation of polymer-based solar cells through three dimensional control of nanostructures.
DARRIN J. POCHAN
Polymer physics; nanocomposites; biopolymers, hydrogels, responsive materials; one, two, and three dimensional superstructured materials based on polymeric manoparticles.
CHRISTOPHER J. ROBERTS
Maximizing and controlling protein stability is a ubiquitous problem in biotechnology applications from protein expression to biopharmaceutical production. Marginally stable or unstable proteins lead to loss of catalytic enzymatic activity, loss of protein drug potency, and possibly to immunogenic responses in patients. Our laboratory focuses on problems ranging from thermodynamics of protein folding, to structural and mechanistic features of protein unfolding and aggregation, to protein-protein interactions and aggregate phase behavior, to molecular modeling of protein-protein interactions and protein folding. We combine experiment, theory, and engineering models to develop fundamental yet practical approaches to predicting and interpreting the behavior of a variety of commercial and model protein systems.
STANLEY I. SANDLER
The major expense in the chemical pharmaceutical industries is the separations and purifications processes that are largely designed on the basis of phase equilibrium. Thermophysical properties and phase equilibria also play important roles in biochemical processing, environmental engineering and risk and safety analysis. Our research program encompasses each of these areas and includes basic theory, experimental measurements, and supercomputer simulation.
Theory of intermolecular forces, simulations of condensed phases, spectroscopy of van der Waals molecules, explicitly-correlated methods of molecular structure calculations, theory of exotic molecules (containing muons, antiprotons, etc.).
NORMAN J. WAGNER
Unidel Robert L. Pigford Chair in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
Director, Center for Neutron Science
Joint Professor in Physics & Astronomy; Professor, Biomechanics & Movement Science (BIOMS Program)
Colloid and polymer science, rheology and electrorheology, complex fluids, molecular thermodynamics, transport phenomena, molecular simulation. The interesting and technologically useful properties of modern, high performance materials are a direct result of nanoscale and/or molecular control of their underlying microstructure. Intelligent materials processing strategies control this microstructure to achieve a desired molecular and often, supramolecular structure to meet specific product performance criteria. Thus, our research is focused on developing a fundamental understanding of the dynamical behavior of materials during processing, which can be used to predict the effects of processing on material microstructure and hence, final product performance. This research has broad application and is supported by numerous international industrial concerns as well as by the National Science Foundation. Much of the research is collaborative with investigators and institutions from around the world.