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Members pursue research with direct applications in nanotechnology.  

Optical properties of nanomaterials

The optical properties of semiconductor nanostructures are incredibly rich. We are setting up a micro-photoluminescence (micro-PL) system that will allow us to study the light emission from nanostructures. We can grown our own ZnO nanowires using a solution-based method, in collaboration with Prof. John Capobianco in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

A forest of ZnO nanowires grown in the lab A forest of ZnO nanowires grown in the lab

Lanthanide doped nanoparticles

This research involves the synthesis, characterization and spectroscopy of lanthanide doped nanoparticles which have attracted considerable attention due to their potential application as biolabels and in biological assays. Nanoparticles doped with lanthanide ions that emit in the infrared are also attractive to the telecommunication industry. These materials are particularly robust and resistant to chemical and photo-induced degradation making them ideal for these applications.

Upconverting NaY4 nanoparticles Upconverting NaY4 nanoparticles

Folding and Self-Organization in Bio-Inspired Materials

Our research is directed towards the fundamental principles involved with molecular and macromolecular 'folding'. The objectives of this research program are the design, synthesis, and physical characterization of bio-inspired model folding systems (foldamers) that adopt well-defined shapes, conformations, and functions based on the sum of weak interactions.

Nanospring being pulled by a cantilever Nanospring being pulled by a cantilever

Surface interactions

Surface interactions are ubiquitous in all aspects of life and are all controlled by weak, non-bonding interactions between molecules. Thus, knowledge of interfacial structure and the nature of interactions between surface-active components allows us to understand, predict and control interfacial processes.

Nanostripes obtained by Langmuir-Blodgett transfer Nanostripes obtained by Langmuir-Blodgett transfer

Rare-earth metal–organic frameworks

Research in the Howarth group is focused on the design of new rare-earth (RE) metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) for applications in adsorption, catalytic breakdown, and sensing of contaminants in water.

Green synthesis and applications

Light-induced electron transfer

A large family of photosynthetic organisms is capable of the catalytic conversion of the water into molecular oxygen and hydrogen-ions. This process uses inexhaustible resources, such as sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide and provides an example of a unique natural biocatalyst.

Proton transfer in a membrane Proton transfer in a membrane

Materials for photochemical energy conversion

Research in the Majewski group focuses on developing, characterizing and optimizing new inorganic materials for catalyzing visible light-driven processes. Research thrusts include the development of photocatalytic metal-organic compounds and surfaces for “solar fuels” generation (i.e. water oxidation or CO2 reduction), value-added chemical transformations, and surface modification.

Nanostructured semiconductor photoelectrode Photoelectrochemical response of a sensitized nanostructured semiconductor photoelectrode

Carbon Dots – From Synthesis to Imaging, Sensing and Drug Delivery Applications

Our research aims to investigate multiple avenues in the synthesis of carbon dots in order to devise methods of preparing highly monodisperse particles with narrow size distributions and specific optical signatures with a specific focus on the experimental parameters and their impact on the nucleation and growth processes of these carbon dots.

Hybrid nanoparticle Hybrid nanoparticle with heating and imaging capabilities functionalized with targeting ligands.

Design and processing of macromolecular nanoscale biomaterials for biomedical applications
Macromolecular nanoscale biomaterials Design and processing of macromolecular nanoscale biomaterials

Our research focuses on the design and processing of macromolecular nanoscale biomaterials for biomedical applications. Our particular interests are the integration of nanostructured materials with biology and biomedicine to develop advanced bionanomaterials that can interface biological processes as well as to understand their biological functions.

Organic electronic materials
We explore the physico-chemical properties of organic electronic materials in the solid state, where we mainly focus on thin films of organic semiconductors (conjugated molecules and polymers) with regards to their application in novel electronic devices. Such materials are of particular interest as their opto-electronic properties (e.g., their bandgap) can be widely tuned by the chemical structure and as they allow for large-area processability of functional structures.
Synchrotron X-ray diffraction on a highly-ordered organic semiconductor thin-film Synchrotron X-ray diffraction on a highly-ordered organic semiconductor thin-film

Polyelectrolyte nanocapsules to extract toxic trace metals

The Skinner research group is developing polyelectrolyte nanocapsules to extract toxic trace metals from environmental samples. Nanocapsules have high surface area to volume ratios allowing rapid and efficient extraction of metals from solution. The highly charged surface also aids the extraction because of its high permeability to ions.

Polyelectrolyte nanocapsules Polyelectrolyte nanocapsules

Structure-function relationships in photosynthetic pigment-protein complexes

My research is currently focused mainly on exploring structure-function relationships in photosynthetic pigment-protein complexes. These nano-scale objects are responsible for the first, light-driven steps of photosynthesis. The particular issues being explored include pigment-pigment and pigment-protein interactions, excitation energy transfer, as well as low-temperature dynamics of proteins. We utilize mainly the methods of optical spectroscopy, including high-resolution low-temperature methods such as spectral hole burning and single molecule/complex spectroscopy.

Fluorescence spectrogram Fluorescence spectrogram
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