The HIP Materials Group aims to harness interfacial phenomena for the synthesis and assembly of functional soft materials. Our materials span colloids to thin films and coatings. We exploit dynamics during materials processing to control macroscopic and microscopic morphologies of soft composites for applications as interfacial stabilizers, encapsulants, autonomous micromotors, colloidal superstructures, and biomimetic topographically-patterned thin films.
Heterogenous and Anisotropic Colloids
Colloids with anisotropic chemical or physical properties give rise to oriented interactions in bulk solutions and at interfaces. Advances in synthetic methods enable auxiliary properties such as cargo-carrying capacity, catalytic activity, or stimuli-responsive shape-change to amplify colloid utility for a wide range of applications spanning environmental remediation to drug delivery. Innovation in the field requires the ability to decouple particle surface properties, which control particle—particle and particle—interface interactions, from auxiliary functions, such as catalytic or cargo-carrying capacities. Embedding auxiliary functions into Janus particles independent of the surface morphology requires an understanding of, and control over, interior architecture. Thus, our current projects aim to elucidate interface evolution during synthesis and to streamline synthetic methods for heterogeneous colloids.
Responsive Soft Materials
Polymer Processing at Fluid Interfaces
Fluid interfaces are unique environments for materials processing because, as inherently open systems, they promote dynamic transport from adjoining phases and offer anisotropic structures that give rise to oriented interactions during assembly. While assembly methods are typically conducted in closed systems, we aim to apply assembly principles in open systems with dynamic transport to broaden accessible architectures. Current projects in the group examine how liquid crystalline phases can be harnessed to control local organization during interfacial polymerization and assembly.
Functional Coatings and Thin Films via iCVD
We study the preparation of functional, conformal polymer coatings using an initiated chemical vapor deposition (iCVD) technique. The development of the iCVD process in 2001 (Gleason group at MIT) introduced the first vapor-phase method to eliminate precursor fragmentation and deposit functional, conformal polymer coatings incorporating hydrophobic, hydrophilic, or stimuli-responsive (i.e., temperature, light, or pH) properties. Additionally, the solventless nature of the technique evades issues related to solubility and enables synthesis of functional copolymer and cross-linked coatings. Current work in the group examines the mechanics of iCVD coatings on soft substrates. Collaborative projects with colleagues at UMass Amherst explore applications of functional iCVD coatings for electronic devices and textiles.