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01  ||  Precision polymers: Designing and analyzing chemical function beyond the molecule

Imagine if you could write chemical instructions on a surface that allowed objects to build themselves. We combine our expertise in surface science and nanomaterial characterization to design precision polymer sheets just a few atoms thick that contain instructions for diverse functions, from biology to electronics and energy conversion. Sheets are built from modular alkyldiacetylene building blocks that order on 2D materials and undergo topochemical photopolymerization to generate chemical patterns with feature sizes ~1 nm -- similar to the best next-generation chip fabrication facilities. Synthetic chemists in our group create new building blocks with tailored functions, from molecular recognition to nanocrystal assembly to adhesion. Analytical chemists develop strategies for characterizing new materials and interfaces.

02  ||  Soft materials for regenerative medicine and wearable electronics

Can we design soft surfaces that provide instructions for regenerating human tissue? We combine the chemical control in our precision polymer sheets with desirable mechanical properties and processability of conventional polymers to make new interfaces for biochemical environments. Polymer chemists and biochemists in the group design sheets incorporating surface-templated glycopolymers and other building blocks, to mimic biological extracellular matrix, and environments important for biochemical sensing.

03  ||  Precision interfaces for energy and nanoelectronics

The interfaces we design can also allow us to control assembly of inorganic components, and to design controlled reaction environments for energy conversion. Materials and inorganic chemists in the group create precision polymer sheets that guide assembly of inorganic nanocrystals, and create designed electrochemical interfaces.

04  ||  Training the next generation of interdisciplinary scientists

The questions we ask require us to design and synthesize new molecules with desired chemistry, assemble them, and characterize their function. Therefore, the research group is very interdisciplinary, drawing scientists with backgrounds ranging from materials characterization to organic and inorganic synthesis and theory. Students utilize facilities both within the laboratory and at the department's Analytical Instrumentation Center, and Purdue's Birck Nanotechnology Center and Life Sciences Microscopy Center. Techniques we use include scanning probe microscopies (including 2 AFMs and an STM as part of our lab), SEM, TEM, contact angle goniometry, XPS, fluorescence microscopy, CD, and PM-IRRAS. Students may also develop new instrumentation in conjunction with the Amy Instrumentation Facility, a unique resource in the Purdue Department of Chemistry.

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