Academic Title: University Professor
Office: LM 627
Research Homepage: http://www.chem.utoronto.ca/staff/EK/
Our research interests are focused on studies of self-assembly and nonequilibrium phenomena in polymer systems. In particular the research in our group can be divided into the following areas:
(1) Polymers at surfaces and interfaces. One current project involves studies of equilibrium and dynamic properties of macromolecules with essential rigidity. We are interested in self-assembly of rigid-rod polymers in solutions and on various substrates, surface modification, surface-induced liquid crystallinity, interaction between rigid macromolecules attached to the surface in a controlled fashion, and shear in confined liquid crystalline phases. Secondly, we are engaged in studies of interaction between surface-attached layers of water-soluble polymers bearing hydrophobic groups. These polymers are used as viscosity modifiers in the coatings industry. Particularly, we are interested in how chemical architecture of macromolecules affects surface-induced micellization, self-assembly on various surfaces, hydrophobic interaction between molecules, compressibility and shear properties of adsorbed polymer layers.
(2) Development of advanced polymer materials. We are particularly interested in polymer composites for 3D memory storage, optical application, and electronics. By employing colloid-chemical methods we produce polymeric materials with periodic modulations in composition. This project includes synthesis of latexes tailoring desired properties, fabrication of 2D and 3D highly ordered nanocomposites, and studies of their optical and electric properties.
(3) Convection in polymeric liquids. By inducing temperature gradients in thin layers of polymeric fluids we generate in them non-equilibrium patterns with a high degree of order and symmetry. We propose to use UV-crosslinking of polymeric fluids to preserve these patterns in a solid state. This is a novel approach to producing large scale ordered mesostructures in polymeric composites.
Liu, K.; Nie, Z.; Zhao, N.; Li, W.; Rubinstein, M.; Kumacheva, E. Step-Growth Polymerization of Inorganic Nanoparticles. Science 329, 197-200 (2010).
Nie, Z.H.; Petukhova, A.; Kumacheva, E. Properties and Emerging Applications of Self-assembled Structures of Inorganic Nanoparticles. Nature Nanotechnology 5, 15-25 (2010).
Park, J. I., Nie , Z.; Kumachev, A.; Abdelrahman, A., Binks, B. P.; Stone, H. A.; Kumacheva, E. A Microfluidic Approach to Chemically Driven Assembly of Colloidal Particles at Gas-Liquid Interfaces. Interfaces. Angew. Chemie Intnl. Ed. 48, 5300-5304 (2009).
Li, W.; Pham, H. H.; Nie, Z.; MacDonald, B.; Guenther, A.; Kumacheva, E. Multi-Step Microfluidic Polymerization Reactions Conducted in Droplets. J. Am Chem. Soc. 130, 9935-9941 (2008).
Nie, Z.; Kumacheva, E. Patterning Surfaces with Functional Polymers. Nature Mater. 7, 277-290 (2008).
Nie, Z.; Fava, D.; Kumacheva, E.; Zou, S.; Walker, G. C.; Rubinstein, M. Self-assembly of Metal-Polymer Analogues of Amphiphilic Triblock Copolymers. Nature Mater. 6, 609-614 (2007).