New catalysts for biomass conversion, new sorbents for CO2 capture or H2 storage, self assembly of nanoscale building blocks to make new materials, new biomaterials for medical devices, new electrode materials for batteries and new membranes are among the topics being explored in the Chemical Engineering Department. We develop and employ both computational and experimental approaches.
The current materials efforts of Professor Mark Barteau and his research group are focused on design of novel materials for selective formation of oxygen-containing products from both biomass-derived feedstocks as well as from hydrocarbons.
Professor Sharon Glotzer and her research group use computer simulation to discover the fundamental principles of how nanoscale building blocks can self-assemble and how to guide that process to engineer new materials. Her team develops the theory and molecular simulation tools to understand self-assembling, self-sensing and self-regulating materials.
Professor Jinsang Kim and his research group develop methods for the self-organization of polymers and nano-semiconductors for electronic and optical applications. His team is also investigating light-emitting organic crystals and sensors that can identify biological markers and is developing bio-inspired conductive adhesives.
Professor Nicholas Kotov and his research group study the self-organization of nanoparticles into more complex structures, layer-by-layer assembly and 3D scaffolds. Nanomaterials and those assembled in thin layers are promising for electronic and medical devices, while 3D scaffolds create microenvironments for cell cultures that resemble their natural conditions.
Current projects of Professor Mark Kushner and his team include plasma fabrication of advanced materials for nano-electronics, plasmas in liquids and plasma treatment of porous polymeric membranes.
Professor Joerg Lahann's research interest is focused on the development of active, multi-functional bio-interfaces, which are applicable to a range of biomedical applications. His group's recent advances in the molecular design of active nanostructures include the introduction of reactive coatings, reversibly switching surfaces, and anisotropic nanoparticles that support the vision of smart interfaces and act as templates in time-controlled surface interactions.
Professor Andrej Lenert and his team study and develop nanoporous composites with tailored transport properties and control over the spectral content of energy flow.
Professor Andrew Putnam and his research group study the instructive role of the extracellular matrix (ECM) in the determination of cell fate, particularly on the role of matrix compliance (i.e., stiffness) and matrix remodeling during neovascularization. The team then seeks to leverage this fundamental knowledge to design instructive materials as synthetic ECMs for applications in regenerative medicine and as model systems in which to study disease.
Professor Johannes Schwank and his research group are involved in developing the next generation of energy storage materials for batteries as part of a DoE funded Energy Innovation Hub.
The research of Professor Timothy Scott and his group focuses on exploiting the attributes of radicals for unique polymer fabrication and manipulation strategies to yield materials for biomedical devices, membrane separators and energy capture and storage media. Furthermore, Scott's team develops strategies to achieve photochemical super-resolution and to generate and characterize sequence-specific oligomer and polymer combinatorial arrays.
The research group led by Professor Max Shtein is interested in organic and hybrid organic/inorganic materials and devices, with applications in solid-state energy conversion and sensing. Current projects include plasmon-enhanced hybrid organic/inorganic solar cells, nanoscale light sources and photodetectors for high resolution microscopy, organic solar cells and LEDs on fibers, woven thermoelectric devices, and organic vapor jet printing.
The research of Professor Michael Solomon and his group investigate complex fluids—soft materials with properties intermediate between fluids and solids. Solomon's current interests include nanocolloidal assembly, colloidal gelation and the biomechanics of bacterial biofilms. Applications of interest include creating new optical materials, sensors, biomedical devices and procedures, as well as materials for energy management.
Professor Levi Thompson and his research group focus on the design, synthesis and characterization of nanostructured materials for applications including catalysis and energy storage. Of particular interest are catalysts for hydrogen production (e.g. water gas shift and steam reforming) and hydrogenation (e.g. Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis and CO2 hydrogenation) reactions, electrode materials for supercapacitors and lithium ion batteries, and metal coordination complexes for redox flow batteries.
Professor Anish Tuteja and his group use polymers to address key challenges in the areas of renewable energy and environmental science. The team develops super oil-repellent surfaces, super water-repellent surfaces, ice-repellent surfaces, membranes, and polymer nanocomposites. Applications include the separation of oil and water and energy-conversion materials for solar cells.
Professor Ralph Yang and his research group synthesize new nanostructured materials for difficult separations by exploiting weak and reversible chemical bonds, such as pi-complexation. The group studies new sorbents for removing sulfur from fuels and for CO2 capture as well as materials for hydrogen storage.
Polyurethane studded with gold nanoparticles can conduct electricity even when stretched, Professor Nick Kotov and his team have discovered. This feat could pave the way for flexible electronics and gentler medical devices. The nanoparticles start out randomly arranged, but they drift into wire-like formations as the material is stretched.