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Hot Materials Talks

CCMR Sponsors 5 Hot Materials Talks throughout the summer. The talks are open to all REU students and take place on Thursdays at 12:00 pm.

“Development and Applications of New Synthetic Strategies for Polymer Science”
Prof. Brett Fors
Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Synthetic polymers are significant importance in all aspects of modern life, and during the last few decades, these materials have facilitated major societal advances. Innovative polymeric materials have the potential to address humankind’s next grand scientific and technological challenges; however, taking advantage of the opportunities presented by these materials requires new methods for gaining precise control of polymer structure and function. To address this challenge, our research group focuses on the development of new synthetic methods and catalyst systems to control polymer architecture, composition, and function to yield next-generation materials. Specifically, this presentation will detail (1) the development of cationic polymerization reactions where polymer chain growth and sequence are regulated with external stimuli and (2) a modular strategy to dictate the shape and composition of polymer molecular weight distribution to precisely control properties.

“Polymer Stabilized Biocatalysts”
Prof. Julie Goddard
Department of Food Science
Enzymes offer unique advantages over traditional catalysts in their unique specificity in chemical transformations.  Yet, their performance in conditions typical of industrial processing is limited by their poor stability in such extreme environments.  The goal of this work is to improve enzyme performance against denaturation by extreme pH values and high temperatures by tailoring the chemistry of polymers used to stabilize them.  Applications of this research will target challenges such as environmental remediation, reutilization of waste streams, and enhancing sensitivity of diagnostic devices. 

“Programming and Processing Nanoscale Building Blocks for Macroscopic Functionality”
Prof. Richard Robinson
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Our research group works to gain a fundamental understanding of how to program and process nanoscale building blocks into functional structures, and the structure-property relationships of the resulting nanostructured materials. We seek to develop new nano-materials and methods for batteries, fuel cells, and printable electronics.  In this talk I will discuss our recent results overcoming critical challenges to create functional nanostructured materials. I will discuss our work on scaling the synthesis, and our work chemically transforming the nanoparticles to post-synthetically tailor their composition and properties.

“Studies of Pathogenic Nanoparticles with Cell Membranes using Single Particle Tracking Techniques”
Prof. Susan Daniel
Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Small vesicles derived from live, biological cell membranes are ubiquitous in nature and found among both mammalian and bacterial cells. These vesicles range from the nano- to micro-scale in diameter and can serve a variety of purposes. Examples of such particles include exosomes, for membrane trafficking of proteins; microvesicles (MVs), derived from cancer cells; outer membrane vesicles (OMVs), produced by bacteria like E. Coli; and membrane-enveloped viruses, borne from infected mammalian cells. What is common to all these particles is that they are essentially cell membranes encapsulating an aqueous compartment filled with biological materials like proteins and RNA. Another common theme is that these particles are thought to be critical in cellular reprogramming. While this cellular reprogramming can serve physiological roles it also enables pathological changes. In the case of cancer, for example, vesicle-mediated cellular reprogramming leads to the formation of tumor-promoting microenvironments, biofilms in the case of bacteria, and the spread of infection in the case of viruses. Hence, gaining an understanding of how these particles interact with “host” cell surfaces and which specific material properties of host cell surfaces facilitate these interactions is important for the development of strategies to interrupt these outcomes. Improved understanding of how interfacial properties of cellular membranes modulate the dynamic interactions between particles and host cell surfaces, in turn, makes it possible to use that knowledge for beneficial purposes, like controlling the regrowth of damaged tissue, or designing next-generation particles for targeted drug delivery. Our recent work leverages single particle tracking microscopy and biomimetic membrane materials for the study of dynamic interactions of pathogenic nanoparticles with host cell surfaces to understand the dynamic interactions of various kinds of microvesicular particles with their target cell surfaces. In this presentation, I will describe our approach and recent results in understanding pathogenic nanoparticle interactions with cell surfaces and the exciting, new directions possible for study, enabled by high resolution microscopy techniques and quantitative analysis.

 “From Scotch Tape to Deli Sandwiches: Two-Dimensional Materials”
Prof. Jie Shan
Department of Applied and Engineering Physics
Many crystals such as graphite are made of atomic layers that are bonded by a weak van der Waals force.  As such, they can be separated into stable units of atomic thickness, for instance, by the scotch tape method.  These 2D materials have exhibited many remarkable physical properties that are absent in their bulk counterparts.  Moreover, recent development has made it possible to stack them layer by layer with precise control over the relative rotation angle and the atomic registry between the layers.  These atomic Deli sandwich structures, called heterostructures of 2D materials, provide unprecedented opportunities for designing new materials properties.  In this talk, I will discuss some of the recent examples from our lab including the electrical control of spins and pseudospins based on 2D heterostructures for potential applications in information technology.

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