We study interdisciplinary problems that involve thin-films, interfaces, soft materials, and micro- and nanofabrication. The overarching motivation of this work is to build useful tools and functional devices (e.g., stretchable electronics, efficient solar cells, biomimetic systems, energy harvesting substrates, etc.) in a simple, inexpensive, and scalable manner. Our approach is to:
- Elucidate the fundamental properties of materials to understand their structure-property relationships such that they can be harnessed in a useful manner, and
- Develop new, unconventional approaches to fabricate and assemble structures into hierarchical, integrated devices
Stretchable, Biomimetic, and Soft Electronics: Conventional electronics are made from rigid materials that cannot be bent or stretched. We are developing new approaches to make conductive materials that are ultra-stretchable. We are also developing new approaches for creating electronics and sensors that are brain-like; that is, built from soft materials that operate in aqueous environments and utilize ions.
Reconfigurable Systems and Actuators: Shape is often a key determinant of function, particularly in electronics. We are exploring new methods to control the shape and properties of materials in a ‘hands-free’ manner (e.g., in response to light).
Self-Folding Sheets: There are many 2D patterning techniques that are available and inexpensive (e.g., inkjet, roll-to-roll, photolithography). We are developing new methods to convert 2D ‘information’ into 3D shapes in a simple manner (e.g., using only light).
Photosensitive Materials: We are studying photocurable polymers that can change properties rapidly in response to light. These materials are useful for the other projects listed here in addition to nanofabrication and patterning.
Energy Harvesting: We are interested in developing methods to fabricate micro- and nano-structured materials to improve the efficiency of functional devices that harvest, store, or consume energy (e.g., solar cells, batteries, and electronic devices).