Department News

wang

Dr. Qiang (David) Wang recently received the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious award, The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award. Dr. Wang’s project “Towards Rational Design of ‘Smart’ Surfaces from Two-Component Polymer Brushes” deftly integrates education and research; involving training of students, developing new courses at CSU, and workshops for high school science teachers.

This project will focus on smart surfaces, also known as stimuli-responsive surfaces, which can change their properties (e.g., wettability, adhesion, friction, elasticity, and biocompatibility) in response to subtle changes in their environment such as temperature, pressure, light, solvent selectivity, ionic strength, type of salt, pH, and applied electric field. Therefore they have diverse applications in many fields, including colloid stabilization, chemical gates, microfluidic devices, sensors, bioanalysis, drug delivery, biomaterials, and imaging technologies.

Two-component polymer brushes are formed by end-grafting polymer chains of two different chemical species (components) to the same substrate. The brush surface properties are determined by the distribution of these species in the brush, which can be reversibly tuned by various external stimuli. The seemingly simple two-component brushes can exhibit a rich variety of interesting and novel behavior through self-assembly of the two components. The complexity of the research substantially increases when the design of these responsive brushes is considered for practical applications. Rational design of such smart surfaces requires detailed understanding of the physics of their stimuli-response and knowledge of how various design parameters (chain architecture, polymer/block lengths and charges, grafting densities, and incompatibility between the two components) affect their stimuli-response, which is the research goal of this five-year computational study.

 

 


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