We are interested in developing innovative protocols (i. e. materials synthesis and fabrication techniques) at the convergence of top-down and bottom-up approaches for directed assembly of complex, multi-functional structures from polymers, gels, biomaterials, and organic-inorganic hybrids. By coupling of chemistry, fabrication and external stimuli, we address the fundamental questions at surface-interface in a precisely controlled environment, and study the structure-property relationship, which in turn could lead to the next generation’s computers, communication networks and biomedical devices.
Special interests involve synthesis and engineering of well-defined polymers and inorganic materials with controlled size, shape, and morphology over multiple length scales, study of their unique surface, optical, and mechanical properties, surface functionalization and dynamic tuning on topographic surfaces, biomimetic mineralization on functional polymer templates, directed-assembly of nano- and micro-objects (particles, rods) in solutions and on patterned surfaces, patterning and assembly of complex structures via harnessing elastic instability.
Penn team making waves with liquid crystals
While liquid crystals are most known for controlling light propagation in displays, their electro-optic and mechanical anisotropies offer powerful tools to direct the assembly of soft materials. Focal conic domains (FCDs) are some of the first textures identified in liquid crystals, but until recently they were largely geometric curiosities, albeit elegant ones. In the past few years it has become clear that the control of these textures, which are too organized and reproducible to be called defects, can be used to create new surface patterning motifs with novel optical properties, new wetting properties, and the ability to template geometry and topology into the bulk.
An interdisciplinary team at Penn is working with liquid crystals like no researchers have before, opening the door for new applications in displays, lenses, sensors, and even nano-manufacturing. Read more(Art courtesy of Felice Macera, Daniel Beller, Apiradee Honglawan, and Simon Čopar)
- Control of wetting, (bio)adhesion, and friction on topographic polymer surfaces
- Templating topological defects in liquid crystal molecules using gemoetric substrates
- Dynamic tuning of optical properties via pattern transformation and responsive materials
- Nano/micropatterning of periodic 2D and 3D structures from polymers and hybrid materials
- Directed deposition of inorganic nanoparticles on structured polymer templates
- Harnessing of elastic instabilities in polymer gels
- Surface patterning and functionalization using polymer brushes
- National Science Foundation (NSF)
- PA Nanomaterials Commercializaton Center
- Energy Commercialization Institute (ECI)
- Benjamin Franklin Technology Partners/Nanotechnology Institute (NTI)