The focus of our laboratory is to develop novel functional materials that can find use in a broad range of applications that mainly include diagnostics, drug delivery, chemical separations, optics and photonics. For this purpose, the current research in our laboratory revolves around investigations of a range of soft systems that include;
1. Self-ordered molecular templates
Liquid crystals (LCs) offer unique ordering symmetries that can be used in the synthesis of materials using sacrificial templates. We use this property to synthesize polymeric materials with predetermined, ordered nanoscopic internal structuring.
2. Liquid crystals confined in micro- nano-scale environments
A number of studies have shown that confinement of LCs in environments in the order of nano- and micrometer sizes provide media that can lead to self assembly of nanometer (molecular) and micrometer (colloidal) sized species. We use this property to improve the sensing performance of the LC systems as well as to chemically functionalize the synthesized materials.
3. Isotropic fluid-liquid crystal interfaces
Isotropic-LC interfaces provide dynamic systems that can externally be manipulated. We use such systems to decorate the interfaces of LCs in a range of pathways. The species that we employ in such studies include molecular (surfactants, lipids, polymers, proteins) and colloidal (organic or inorganic nano- or microparticles) materials.
4. Biologically and chemically functionalized interfaces
Such interfaces can provide hydrophobicity, hydrophilicity, oleophobicity, antimicrobial properties, as well as they can provide substrates for the LC alignment that can be manipulated externally (with light or electric field).
We found in our studies that such tools provide methods that are unique and advantageous over their traditional counterparts and suggest a number of opportunities that can significantly improve the currently used products through molecular design.
For more information about liquid crystals and the systems that our laboratory focuses on, please refer to this recent review article.