Research Descriptions

Research Descriptions

Materials Science and Engineering Audience:

Aqueous gels are the cornerstone of this research.  Thermoreversible gels and hydrogels are the model systems.  One of the gel systems used involves a dendrimer created almost three decades ago.  This dendrimer forms thermoreversible gels at very low weight percentages with a transition temperature not much higher than room temperature.  This molecule is used as a low-cost model system for amyloid beta studies as well as an self-assembly agent for other rod-like macromolecules.  Currently, this system is being used to study the transitions in lyotropic liquid crystals.

General Audience:

Imagine a mountain lumberjack with a lot of logs and only a stream to get those down the river.  What happens as more and more logs are placed in the stream?  At first, the logs would flow smoothly since they would have sufficient spacing.  As more logs were added to the water, the flow would slow but eventually there would be so many they’d have no choice to line up and flow down the river side-by-side.  This demonstrates the principle of lyotropic liquid crystals.  As more and more rod-like particles are added to a liquid they eventually have no choice to line up.  In our research we study systems like these on the nanoscale to understand how these systems flow and interact with light.