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Chemical Engineering

Surface Properties of Materials Laboratory

Professor Couzis, et al.

Professor Couzis’ research area focuses on the engineering of the surface properties of materials using molecular and supramolecular approaches. The manipulation of the surface properties of a material results in the control of the recognition events (such as surface reactivity, wetting, adhesion, lubrication, film formation) that occur at these interfaces and which control the overall properties of the composite structures (bulk plus interface) over many length scales. The ability to control, and modify the surface properties of materials allows us to develop better lubricants, catalysts, templates for size and polymorph controlled crystallization of materials, thin film membrane used in sensor, and schemes for the development of novel biological detection schemes.

Current Projects:

1. Templated synthesis and crystallization of material

The objective of this research is to design solid surface nano templates for the heterogeneous crystallization as seeds of one form of a crystalline material, which can exist in several polymorphic forms. The approach employs using self-assembled silane or organosulfur monolayers, which bond to solid supports to functionalize surfaces with chemical moieties. This approach leads to the development of new materials for a variety of applications including photonics, catalysts, pharmaceuticals, and strengthening fillers.

2. Engineering of Molecularly Thin Organic Layers for Water & Organic Vapor Barriers
This research project involves the investigation of the use of self-assembled monolayers for organic and water vapor barrier applications. The focus is on understanding the relationship between vapor permeability and structure of the molecular film. The use of monomolecular films allows us to develop permeation membranes that exhibit very high selectivity, with minimal loss of throughput and time response. Such films are strongly needed for the fabrication of new highly efficient and sensitive chemical sensor that can be used for the monitoring of hazardous materials and waste.

3. Surfactant Facilitated Wetting of Hydrophobic Surfaces
The specific objectives of this research project are to develop and validate a mechanism to explain the observed enhancement in the wetting of water on hydrophobic surfaces by the use of surfactants, and use this mechanism to further develop surfactant wetting systems capable of facilitating water wetting on non polar surfaces. The findings form this project impacts areas such as lubrication and printing, spray delivery of agrochemicals.

4. Chemically Functionalized Nanoisland Surfaces
The overall objective of this project is to develop facile and easily scalable molecular engineering methods for fabricating nanopatterns of chemical functionality on solid surfaces. The type of patterning studied consists of island domains of one chemical functionality surrounded by a continuous matrix of a second chemical functionality. The structuring of the surface is accomplished by using self-assembling monolayers (SAMs).

5. Biosensor Arrays from Intact Receptor Proteoliposomes Adsorbed onto Nanoislands

This project involves the development, design, and fabrication, of novel membrane protein based biological sensors. The approach is based on fabricating via self-assembly, chemically patterned surfaces that consist of nano-sized island domains of one chemical functionality surrounded by another and immobilizing on such surfaces intact proteoliposomes. This approach should lead to a method for use in the high throughput analysis of the large numbers of membrane proteins currently being uncovered by genome sequencing projects. In addition this work could address national security needs on biological counterterrorism for early detection of biological and chemical agents.