Shelley Anna - Mohammad Islam - Annette Jacobson - Dennis Prieve - James Schneider - Paul Sides - Robert Tilton - Lynn Walker
Associated Faculty: John Anderson - Steve Garoff - Gary Patterson
Areas: Characterization of interfaces in colloids, electrokinetic phenomena, optical techniques, polymers, rheology, microfluids, wetting.
Related programs: Center for Complex Fluids Engineering
Interfacially dominated materials and fluid processing technologies are widespread and are invariably characterized by molecular and compositional complexity. Many important materials are colloidal, i.e. , they are multi-phase mixtures whose macroscopic properties are dominated by long-range interactions between distinct physical structures that are in the nanometer to micrometer size range. Just a few examples include pharmaceutical suspensions, low volatile-organic-content coatings, agricultural emulsions, ceramic precursors, and electrophoretic display media. The theme that unifies the research in the Complex Fluids Engineering group is that in order to understand and control macroscopic complex fluid processes, one must understand and control physical forces on the nanometer scale. Phenomena at the nanometer scale ( e.g., self-assembly of surfactants and polymers in solution or on the surfaces of dispersed particles, solvent and solute ordering near interfaces) control phenomena that occur at the micrometer scale ( e.g., nucleation of multi-particle aggregates, formation of thin fluid films). These in turn control phenomena at the macroscopic scale ( e.g., viscoelastic flows, phase separation, coating flows). The goal of the Complex Fluids Engineering group is to discover and control the intertwined links between the nano-, micro-, and macro-scales in order to more effectively engineer the myriad fluid processing technologies they control. This group is uniquely positioned to address the higher level complexities that are introduced by strongly interacting solutes in multi-component mixtures.
Students in the Complex Fluids Engineering group enjoy a highly collaborative environment. It is not unusual for students to be co-advised by two faculty members with complementary expertise, or to work as part of a dynamic team of students that have different research advisors but collaborate to solve especially challenging research problems. This group offers a well-equipped, multi-user PPG Industries Colloids, Polymers and Surfaces Laboratory, as well as a policy to openly share the specialized instrumentation that is housed in individual faculty laboratories.
The Complex Fluids Engineering group conducts scientifically challenging, fundamental research that is motivated by modern technological needs. Students are currently exploiting a wide variety of experimental and theoretical techniques to investigate, for example, supramolecular engineering of interface structure via polymer/surfactant complexation and co-adsorption, colloidal forces and aggregation dynamics, electrophoretic deposition of colloidal crystalline arrays for display technologies, functionalized lipids for drug delivery and DNA separation, shear-induced structural transitions in self-assembling liquids, and the rheology of dense suspensions.
Through the Center for Complex Fluids Engineering, students and faculty participate in an interdisciplinary seminar series, industrial workshops, an annual Polymer/Colloid Minisymposium, and a short course aimed at a variety of industrial prationers.
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