B.S., Purdue University (1988)
Ph.D., Purdue University (1991)
Our general research thrust is the investigation of the formation, structure and properties of cross linked polymeric materials, particularly those formed from photopolymerization reactions. Specifically, our group is focusing on developing new materials and photopolymerization mechanisms for a variety of applications including biomaterials, microfluidic devices, dental restorations, liquid crystal displays, nanotechnology, and high technology. These interests are investigated by incorporating a mixture of polymerization reaction engineering, monomer and polymer synthesis, and experimental characterization.
The primary focus of our research effort involves the development, application, and understanding of photopolymerizations. We are currently utilizing a multifaceted approach to characterize the underlying mechanisms of the polymerization and the polymer structural evolution while also developing improved systems for a wide range of applications. The first approach involves experimental characterization and modeling of the polymerization kinetics and the cross linked polymer structural evolution. A second emphasis is the development of new monomers. In this effort we are designing, synthesizing and evaluating numerous monomer structures to obtain the most rapidly polymerizing system that forms a polymer with ideal properties. Lastly, we are developing new types of photopolymerizations, including both living radical polymerizations and thiol-ene polymerizations. These polymerizations are developed with the goal of leading to new applications and novel material architectures.
Our thrusts in the areas of micro- and nanotechnology are threefold. First, we are attempting to develop polymer – liquid crystal composites with controlled polymer nanostructures. To date, we have successfully created a three-dimensional polymer architecture that involves approximately 3 Å sheets of polymer separating 30 Å thick sheets of liquid crystal. These systems form materials for liquid crystal displays that have improved optical and mechanical properties relative to their non-polymer stabilized counterparts. Secondly, we are designing improved microfluidic devices that utilize living radical photopolymerizations to form unique, three-dimensional constructs. These devices, or labs-on-a-chip, are then used to detect diseases or chemical compounds. Finally, our micro- and nanotechnology efforts also focus on developing techniques for producing nanometer size patterns on surfaces. These capabilities will enable higher resolution patterning for micro- and nanolithography, including, for example, higher resolution semiconductor production.
A focus of our group has been the development of new materials for various biological systems. In this area we are attempting to produce materials with controlled properties and controllable interactions to improve biocompatibility and functional performance. A thrust of our efforts in this area is in the development of novel dental restorative materials. The proposed materials, based on our improved understanding of the monomer structure – polymer formation – polymer property relationships in photopolymerizations, are targeted to polymerize more rapidly and form a material with improved properties. Additionally, we have developed techniques for utilizing our thiol-ene and living radical photopolymerizations to produce materials that facilitate improved control of material properties and polymer surfaces, respectively, in biomaterials.