Our department has unique strengths in three emerging areas of research: alternative energy, nano-scale materials, and biomolecular engineering.
There is also significant overlap between these areas leading to exciting interdisciplinary projects.
Examples include biofuels [alternative energy and biomolecular], the nano-structure in plant cell walls [nano-scale materials and biomolecular], and the role of crystallinity in the efficiency of polymeric solar cells [nano-scale materials and alternative energy].
Topics investigated by faculty working in alternative energy include next generation portable power sources such as
- Lithium ion batteries
- Solar cells
- Fuel cells
- Generation of biofuel from cellulosic biomass
- Production of biodiesel
- The use of single ion conductors for electrolytes;
- Reaction kinetics and pathways in microbial, solid oxide, proton exchange membrane and borohydride fuel cells.
- Multiscale modeling of electrode/electrolyte interfaces.
- Research in nanoscale materials includes assembly and behavior of colloidal particles.
- Molecular processes at surfaces and interfaces.
- Structure and behavior of advanced polymeric materials.
- Performance and physics of catalysts and catalytic membranes.
- Lubrication for micro-electro-mechanical systems.
- Structure and dynamics of soft condensed matter.
- Biomolecular engineering includes the engineering of proteins to perform specific tasks.
- Engineering of metabolic networks to generate pathways for production of high value biofuels and biochemicals.
- Design of bioreactors and biocatalysts.
- Separation and purification of therapeutic proteins.
- Use of plants for protein production.
- Aggregation and binding of proteins as applied to disease and self assembly.
- Nanoscale structure of plant cell walls.
- Design of artificial organs.
Our faculty and graduate students are experts in materials characterization, synthesis, and computation, all of which are used to investigate the research areas mentioned above.
These methods also overlap to generate innovative approaches to research problems:
For example computational strategies can be used to screen potential proteins for a desired enzymatic activity, followed by synthesis and experimental verification of the best candidate molecules.
We offer a large array of characterization techniques Including:
- Neutron and x-ray scattering
- Dielectric spectroscopy
- Atomic force microscopy
- X-ray adsorption spectroscopy
- Light scattering
- Thermal analysis
- Flow cytometry
- Confocal microscopy
- Protein and DNA sequencing
- X-ray crystallography
Our faculty have expertise in computational methods aimed at electronic structure, atoms, and the continuum.
- These methods include optimization
- Atomistic simulation
- Meso-scale modeling
- Quantum chemistry
- Computational fluid dynamics
- And multiscale modeling
- Students in the chemical engineering department use advanced synthetic methods to make designer colloidal particles
- Next generation polymers
- Catalytic materials
- And high performance membranes
Updated on 07/08/11, Top of page