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Surface and Interfacial Phenomena:
With the increasing miniaturization of devices and the development of nano-systems, the properties of surfaces become increasingly more important, and these are often quite different from those of the bulk. Mike Gordon is exploring the static and dynamic physicochemical properties of nanoscale systems found in material science, microelectronics, catalysis, and biology. He uses novel nanofabrication techniques to develop new nanostructures and nanostructured surfaces, and investigates their chemical, optical, electrical, and mechanical properties using hybrid scanning probe microscopy (SPM) and other techniques. Todd Squires investigates the physico-chemical properties of complex fluid interfaces, and how they can be understood in microfluidic and soft matter systems.
Ed Kramer’s research focuses on structured polymer thin films, surfaces and interfaces using a variety of depth profiling, X-ray scattering, spectroscopy and microscopic imaging methods. Applications include ordered block copolymer thin films for 20 nm lithography, block copolymers by multiple hydrogen bonding of end groups, and polymer-coated inorganic nanoparticles as surfactants at polymer interfaces.
Israelachvili uses various experimental techniques to directly measure the forces between surfaces in liquids and vapors at the molecular level. He also studies non-equilibrium interactions, which are particularly relevant to colloidal, tribological and biological systems. The aim is to gain insights into the fundamental interactions in complex systems that also have technological applications. For example, he is currently studying the way geckos move rapidly on walls and ceilings with the aim of mimicking their remarkable properties in adhesives and robotics. The Fredrickson group is engaged in theoretical and simulation studies to elucidate the structure and thermodynamic properties of interfaces in a broad range of polymeric and complex fluid systems.
The Helgeson lab is broadly interested in using interfacial structure and dynamics on the surface of colloids (nanoparticles, emulsions, and proteins) to control their interactions, stability, and rheology. Currently, the group is developing novel materials in which interfacial self-assembly is harnessed to reversibly assemble nanoemulsions into directed microstructures, including droplet clusters, physical networks, and solid-like “organohydrogels”. The group is working on new material chemistries to trigger assembly through a variety of mechanisms, as well as new scattering and optical tools to probe microstructure and interactions. These materials open new applications ranging from nanomaterial templating to pharmaceuticals and medicine.