Control over nano-structure is critical to determining macroscopic properties in a variety of nanomaterials. Bottom-up self-assembly processes are especially desirable to form these structures because they are potentially scaleable. Several groups have demonstrated the use of specific colloidal interactions as a tuning mechanism. In our lab we are also developing simple, reliable and inexpensive methods to drive self-assembly in nanoparticle systems. These approaches are generally based on particle surface modification through the use of small molecules and polymers. With this approach we are able to reliably produce structured aggregates of nanometer dimension at concentrations that make them accessible for use in a variety of applications.

We are also interested in developing fundamental understanding of how biomolecules, such as peptides and proteins, interact with inorganic precursors and nanoparticles. For example, in biomineralization, colloidal and intermolecular interactions are essential to the formation of complex composite organic-inorganic compounds that are critical to the sustainment of life. We use high-throughput experimentation to identify the conditions that favor the formation of such highly organized structures to provide insights and fundamental understanding of the dominant physics-chemical mechanisms that are involved.