Research Areas

Membranes for Artificial Photosynthetic Systems
Given the scale of projected energy needs as well as the rapid climate change associated with growing CO2 levels in the atmosphere, there is a major push by governments to increase the rate of innovation and discovery in the area of carbon-neutral solar fuel production.  For example, the US National Science Foundation has established a Solar Energy Initiative and the European Science Foundation has established the EuroSolarFuels program to support interdisciplinary efforts to address solar energy and solar fuels.  The US Department of Energy has made major investments to establish facilities (e.g., http://solarfuelshub.org/) for testing and translating innovations in the field with a focus on scaling up and enabling.  Our group, which includes collaborators in Electrical and Computer Engineering, is focusing on the development of membranes that will likely play a key role in artificial photosynthetic systems.  This effort includes the design and synthesis of new materials as well as the study of their electronic properties and their integration with light absorbers and catalysts required for functional devices.

Polymer-Based Electronics
The widespread focus on organic and molecular approaches to electronics has been driven by the promise that new mechanisms may overcome current limitations of silicon-based devices.  In particular, silicon devices based on capacitive and field effects are dominated by interfacial processes that are currently limited by defects and scaling issues.  However, molecular devices currently suffer from issues of reproducibility that are in part a result of the incorporation of organic materials into a fairly aggressive lithographic process.  Our research program explores well-defined mechanisms for redox-driven memory and electronics based on field-driven ion motion.  By designing molecular composite architectures that distribute charges within dopable systems we are opening up new approaches for the design of polymer-based electronics and memory.  Working with collaborators in Electrical and Computer Engineering and industry we are working on producing functional memory based on these new principles.  

Integrated Circuit, Chemical Sensor Arrays
The invention of the CCD chip has revolutionized the interface between technology and its environment.  By pixilating optical images of its surroundings, devices can use sophisticated imaging processing and pattern recognition algorithms to perform increasingly sophisticated tasks associated with visual perception.  The creation of a chemically diverse sensor array chip that mimics the olfactory system could provide the next revolution in sensory input for technology.  In collaboration with groups in Electrical and Computer Engineering, we are working on CMOS circuitry design and new methods for creating large numbers of chemically diverse polymer sensing materials on the chips to significantly expand the ways in which technology interacts and functions.