Actual research project
Structure and Properties of Periodic Mesoporous Silica and Organosilicas
This project is in collaboration with Prof. Doug Perovic in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering .
Periodic, mesoporous silica (SiO2) is a material synthesized by sol-gel polymerization of silica around a self-assembled template of surfactant molecules. A typical hexagonal structure (MCM-41) is shown to the right, as represented by an atomic model ( Dr. Rob Bell , The Royal Institution of Great Britain ). The diameters of the channels here are about 4 nm.
I am also using nanoindentation to measure the mechanical properties of various nanostructures. A force is applied to a sharp diamond tip and we measure the depth to which it penetrates the surface of a material. In general the strength of materials increases dramatically as the scale is reduced (ie; the use of glass fibres in fiberglass). In nature, structural materials such as bone, shell or tooth, often consist of complex 3-D arrangements of strong reinforcements in a soft matrix as nanostructured materials. A technique like self-assembly allows us to design complex nanocomposites using the mesoporous silica shown above.
Work: Dept. of Chemistry
List of major publications