Materials Research Project
We are interested in synthesizing advanced functional materials, exploring nanoscale materials science, manipulating nanostructures, and fabricating functionalized devices.
Using template assisted electrodeposition, nanowires with controlled sizes and composition can be fabricated. Based on magnetic field manipulation, we recently demonstrated the control of magnetic nanowire alignment and rotation in a non-contact, efficient, low cost, and easy-to-implement approach in liquids with little sample size or geometry limitations. A mathematical model has been developed to describe the nanowire motion in the ultra low Reynolds number region.
The capability of manipulating these nanoscale entities in suspensions will help in the development of micro-nano fluidic components, anisotropic polymer composites, super capacitors, optical switches and bio/chemical devices. As a demonstration, we synthesized Ni nanowire polymer composites with controlled filler distribution and orientation; the anisotropic magnetic and mechanical reinforcement effects have been studied.
Due to their abundance, light weight, superior mechanical properties, good electrical/thermal conductivities, and chemical stability, carbon based materials have attracted enormous scientific and engineering interests for a long time. Despite the extensive research efforts devoted to carbon nanomaterials after the discovery of C60 and carbon nanotubes (CNTs), large scale applications are still limited to carbon black and micro-carbon-fibers. Cost and handling are two of the major bottlenecks affecting the reproducibility and reliability of utilizing carbon nanomaterials. Based on a dispersion and filtration approach, we are able to synthesize carbon nanofiber sheets with controlled size and porosity. The cost effective self-standing CNF sheets can become an ideal platform to achieve multi-functionality for large scale engineering applications.
In collaboration with Dr. Gangbing Song at UH, Dr. Jan Gou at UCF, Drs. Chonglin Chen and Amir Ballha at UTSA, we are working on functionalize carbon nanofibers (CNF) to explore their applications in the areas ranging from composites, fuel cell electrodes, supercapacitors to structure health monitoring, electromagnetic field shielding, lighting striking prevention and acoustic/vibration damping.