As an university research group we are focused on the betterment of humankind through a discovery-based approach focused on advanced materials and their cost-effective manufacturing for applications in energy harvesting, electronics, and sensing.

Research Topics

Advanced Functional Materials

We view advanced functional materials as those that show new, improved or unusual behaviors either as a result of their structure, composition or size. A seen numerous times in history, new materials often lead to revolutionary changes and so the design the discovery of new materials is one the most important activities of our society. As the sophistication of new functional materials increases, the technology to manufacture them also grows in complexity and cost. Therefore one of the key challenges in this area is to couple simple manufacturing approaches with materials discoveries. Our pathway to discovering new materials is by utilizing nanomanufacturing routes based on natural processes, such as self-organization. From an application perspective our research is on materials and devices for new and improved solar cells, magnetic applications, bio and chemical sensors, and electronics. A recent breakthrough that we reported in the Journal Advanced Materials is our discovery that the the oxidation rate of Ag nanoparticles can be substantially slowed down by galvanic effects in bimetal configurations. You can read more about this research topic here.

This work has been funded by NSF

Solar Energy

While Si solar cell technology has been around for more then 30 years, the cost per watt of energy solar energy production continues to prohibit its widespread use. Many factors contribute to this, including cost of materials, complexity of fabrication, poor light absorption, poor efficiency at converting photons into energy, etc. Our research on solar energy is primarily focused on harnessing the energy through innovations in Si ultrathin solar cells, inventing new and better solar cells such as hollow fiber based solar fabric, and improved light trapping coatings. We reported recently in Nanomaterials and Energy that Ni-silicide nanoparticles increase light absorption in Si by dramatic amounts. You can read more about this research topic here.

This work has been funded by various centers

Plasmonics and Optics

Plasmonics is the field that deals with the resonant interaction of light with materials that can sustain collective and coherent electron oscillations, such as metals. This field is very important towards technologies in biosensing, chemical sensing, waveguiding, solar energy harvesting, sub-diffraction limited optics, etc. Currently there are only two metals with useful and practical ambient air visible light plasmonics properties, Au and Ag. However, Au is expensive and, though Ag is much superior to Au, it degrades rapidly in ambient air and other corrosive environments. So our plasmonics work is aimed at discovering new materials for visible wavelength applications by a combination of materials design and modeling, synthesis, and characterization. We reported recently in Advanced Materials that Ag-Co bimetal nanoparticles have at least a 10 times longer useful plasmon lifetime air as compared to pure Ag. You can read more about this research topic here.

This work has been funded by NSF


While a number of materials show new and useful behavior due to their nanoscale size, it is challenging to translate them into real applications becuase real world devices are generally macroscopic in dimensions. Therefore, it is critical to be able to nanomanufacture the useful material in a desired fashion. We are focussed on the use of self-organization, which is the pathway often seen in nature, to build nanoscale materials. In a recent work with collaborators, we developed the experimental and theoretical foundations to manufacture many new and different types of nanostructures by bilayer liquid self-organizationin, as reported in ACS Nano and Physics of Fluids. You can read more about this research here.

This work has been funded by NSF

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