J. Paige Buchanan
Physical Organic Chemistry, Polymer Science, Nanomaterials
Regardless of the discipline, all scientists agree that materials may exhibit very different properties at the nanoscale than those seen in the bulk material. For example, optical, magnetic, and electrical properties are sensitive to size effects, and when used as catalysts, nanoparticles have the ultimate in surface to volume ratio. Our group's research efforts traverse the boundaries among nanomaterials, organic chemistry, and polymer science, with the goal of realizing, supporting, and in many cases boosting the unique properties offered by these intriguing materials. This research platform has led to successful projects using nanomaterials as (1) MRI contrast agent prototypes, (2) functional ferrofluids with medical applications, (3) additives in stimuli-responsive, multi-functional adhesives, specifically designed to meet the changing needs of modern wound management applications, (4) nano-dopants for conducting and magnetically responsive polymers, and (5) architectural subunits of biologically inspired materials to address areas of military and civilian concern, e.g. chem-bio defense applications.
Just as important as characterizing the exceptional chemical, physical, electronic, and magnetic properties of these unique materials is understanding their often unusual chemistry, photochemistry, and relative reactivity in chemical reactions, such as in functionalization chemistries to modify particle solubility and enable secondary surface chemistry. Deterring aggregation and subsequent precipitation and the incorporation of these materials into nano-structured polymer composites has been a significant focus of recent work, with an emphasis on developing new methodologies. Our research program is designed to address these critical questions using a balance of modern synthetic and analytical techniques. Due to the multi-disciplinary nature of our research, it is also highly collaborative, and our group has active collaborations nationwide in academics, industry, and government labs.