Summary of Research Program
In nature, complex three-dimensional (3D) structures provide essential function. Enthralling opportunities exists for 3D structures in man-made devices. I propose to establish a research program that combines the chemistry of self-assembled materials with the fabrication opportunities of 3D printing technology. The underlying and unifying idea is that the materials that we print are important, but so are the materials, and the supports on which we print. The fundamental research that I will conduct will lead to functional structures with potential applications in adhesion, sensors, soft robotics, energy and information storage, and biomedicine, through innovations at the cusp of Chemistry, Materials Science, and Engineering.
Click on the following links to find out more about these ongoing projects.
Proposal 1: Sacrificial Supports for 3D printing of Freeform Structures
This research will develop sacrificial supports to use in 3D printing. It has two specific aims: (1) to develop supports that will be used to build 3D forms; (2) to develop supports that will be used to study self-assembled chemical systems. These materials and methods will have the potential to be employed in applications ranging from catalysis to biomedical devices.
Proposal 2: Self-Assembled Functionalized PDMS Polymers for 3D Printed Soft-Actuators
This research will combine 3D printing with self-assembled materials to fabricate stimuli responsive actuators. Specifically, it will use subcomponent self-assembly to program into the materials specific functionalities that will (1) aid in the adhesion of the composite layer, and (2) deliver specific stimuli-responsive functionalities. By combining shape morphing self-assembled PDMS polymers with 3D printing, I will build complex 3D structures and actuators for use in soft-robots, artificial muscles, and other biomimetic devices.
Proposal 3: Active Supports for 3D Printing: Building Structures with Self-Assembly and Instabilities
This proposal will couple buckling structures with 3D printing. It will print 2D patterns that will transform into 3D structures through controlled buckling and deformation. Specifically, it will create structures with precise adhesion points to create 2D patterns necessary to generate 3D architectures. The experimental approach will combine origami and kirigami with the printing of these self-assembled soft materials. The research has two specific aims: (1) to print 3D structures that buckle by design, and (2) to exploit curvature to fabricate 3D functional responsive fabrics. These structures will be used in sensors, soft robots, and biomedical applications.
Proposal 4: Design of Metal Complexes on Surfaces Using Large Area Molecular Tunnel Junctions
This proposal will use a type of large are molecular tunnel junction (the EGaIn Junction) to characterize self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) of transition metal complexes, and will investigate how metal ions influence charge transport across these SAMs. The outcome of this work will facilitate the design of metal complexes for electronic, optoelectronic, and spintronic applications.