UW NanoScience Lab
As illustrated in Figure 1, the research activity of our NanoScience Lab at the University of Washington entails the study of nano-confined complex organic systems. In particular, our interest is in
(i) identifying basic internal and external constraints that are responsible for “unique” material and transport properties, and
(ii) employing knowledge on molecular- and nano-constraints towards material engineering in a cognitive fashion with focus on the molecular building blocks, its subunits and temporal and spatial mobilities.
While we differentiate between two classes of constraints, i.e., internal molecular constraints, and external interfacial and dimensional constraints, our primary focus is in both classes on enthalpic, entropic, and organizational processes within the condensed phase of materials. Of particular interest to us is the system dynamics, such as local mobility, thermally induced transitions and relaxations.
Fig. 1: Research Objective and Aims.
Our NanoScience Lab is known for its pioneering efforts in nano-thermomechanical analysis and method developments towards the study of critical phenomena in organic materials. In particular, we investigated directly at the nanoscale
· transition and relaxation processes (e.g., the glass forming process with first model independent direct observation of the cooperative length scale),
· entropic cooling involving simple liquids at solid interfaces,
· monolayer reaction kinetics in smart lubricating systems,
· submolecular energetics and cooperativity in complex, amorphous and nano-constrained systems, and
· local mass diffusion involving homogenous and nanocomposite membranes.
Materials of interest have been organic systems (complex molecules and polymers), inorganic-organic hybrid systems (nanocomposites), and recently also biomolecules (polypeptides, proteins). Our fundamental research efforts have led to new insight in polymer science (glass formers, thin films), tribology (lubrication and friction), electro-optics (photonics and optoelectronics), energy production systems (fuel cells), membrane systems (gas separation). It impacted areas in regards of nanodevices, such as electronics (data storage). Near-future research plans are to expand our nanoscale fundamentally based investigations to energy production and storage systems (organic solar cells, solid polyelectrolyte batteries), water purification, and biomimetics (adhesion, compatibilization and energy dissipation). Table 1 lists fundamental aspects that are of interest to my group, material classes we have studied at the UW, and areas of impact. This document gives a review of our research efforts.
Table 1: List of Conducted Research