Research: Nanomaterials Science

Nanomaterials for chemical and biological sensors

(Zhu)     
One research area involves the development of conjugated polymers and nanostructured materials for chemical and biological sensors. Conjugated polymers and nanostructured materials, with their small dimensions and remarkable properties, are potential candidates for next-generation biological/chemical sensors. One of the challenging problems is to control synthesis, fabrication, and assembly of the nanostructured materials precisely on various substrates. Dr. Zhu’s laboratory develops innovative techniques to synthesize and assemble one-dimensional nanostructures and to integrate these advanced materials into sensory devices such as TNT and sarin gas sensors. The project includes:

  • Microfluidic synthesis to generate and assemble one-dimensional nanostructures of conducting polymer, ceramic, carbon, and functional nanocomposites;
  • Surface chemistry to introduce functional groups and biorecognition elements
  • Transfer printing to assemble and fabricate portable nanosensors with high sensitivity and selectivity on flexible substrates.

Electrospun polymer, ceramic, metallic, carbon/graphite nanofibers, and their applications

(Fong)
Dr. Fong’s research endeavors are primarily on the preparation, characterization, and evaluation of electrospun polymer, ceramic, metallic, carbon/graphite nanofibers for various applications including, but not limited to:

  • Energy-related applications (e.g., solar cells, fuel cells, and supercapacitors)
  • Biomedical applications (e.g., tissue engineering, drug delivery, and wound dressing)
  • Microelectronics-related applications (e.g., sensors and transistors)
  • Filtration/separation applications (e.g., the filtration/separation of biomacromolecules such as proteins and nucleic acids)
  • Composite applications (e.g., structural composites made of continuous nano-scaled carbon fibers with superior mechanical strength); laminated composites (with substantially improved out-of-plane properties) made of conventional carbon/glass fiber fabrics with interfacial regions containing high-performance electrospun carbon/glass nanofibers; composites (that possess the structure similar to interpenetration network (IPN) except the interpenetration occurs in nanoscale instead of molecular scale) with significantly improved toughness (and/or ballistic protection performance); and innovative dental restorative composites (with high mechanical properties and considerable reduction of internal stress development). 

In recent years, the above research endeavors have been supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Army Research Laboratory (ARL), the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), the Department of Energy (DOE), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the State of South Dakota.