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Complex Fluids and Polymers

Research groups focusing on the field of Complex Fluids and Polymers within CBE are working in areas such as polymer rheology, transport in complex fluids, soft matter, interfacial science, and polymer synthesis. The research in these areas contributes greatly to: 





  • Energy applications: liquid fuel cells, conducting lubricants, electrolytes for lithium metal batteries, nanoparticle fluids for carbon capture, nanomaterials for biomass conversion.
  • Transport processes in living systems: treatment of brain tumors, artificial trees, bioseparations.
  • Soft matter: colloids and gel arrest, polymer rheology and synthesis.
  • Microfluidics: microscale fuel cells, separation devices, microscale mixing, digital fluidics. 
  • Adhesion: liquid bridges and capillary wetting

Research Foci of Faculty in Complex Fluids and Polymers
Prof. Lynden Archer's research is rooted in nanoscale materials. His group investigates how these materials behave at the fundamental level, as well as applying them to electrochemical energy storage (batteries). The materials studies most extensively are called Nanoscale Organic Hybrid Materials (NOHMs), which are created by attaching polymers to the surfaces of nanoparticles. 

Prof. Susan Daniel's group is interested in dynamics of liquid drops in contact with chemically-patterned solid surfaces. They are interested in understanding the fundamental interfacial behaviors of wetting, adhesion, and contact angle hysteresis on the transport of liquids on solid surfaces. Some applications include digital fluidic devices, bacteria micro-culture systems, and high resolution printing. 

Prof. Fernando Escobedo's research group is at the forefront of contributors to novel methods for the simulation of both thermodynamic data (like free-energies and microstructure) and kinetic information (like transition mechanisms and rate constants) from molecular-level models of complex materials. His current interests center on establishing structure-property relationships for polymeric and colloidal materials. The ultimate goal of generating such new fundamental knowledge is to improve the engineering of materials of desirable or "super" properties that originate in the creation of special types of structural order or the control of phase transitions. 

Prof. Yong Joo's research focuses on the integration of molecular details into a macroscopic level in polymeric materials processing. Areas of current interest include the microstructural rheology and processing of complex fluids, the formation of nanostructures in nanofibers, and the occurrence of viscoelastic instabilities in polymer flows. His group has laid the foundation for experimental and theoretical studies on advanced, scalable manufacturing processes based on the flow instability such as gas-assisted electrospinning and Taylor-Couette (T-C) reactors with axial flow. Incorporation of high loading of inorganic precursors into water-soluble polymers in gas-assisted electrospinning gave rise to cost-effective, facile production of metallic and ceramic nanofibers. 

Prof. Donald Koch's group studies the rheology and average transport processes in particle suspensions, porous media, and micro- and nano-structured materials. Some examples of studies focused on materials and their properties are: particle-filled polymeric materials, solvent-free nanoparticle fluids, aggregation processes in colloids and aerosols. 

Prof. William Olbricht's research involves the application of fluid mechanics and mass transfer to problems of biological, biomedical and industrial interest. His group focuses on fundamentals that are relevant to broad classes of problems and also on technology development for specific applications. A recent example is convection-enhanced drug delivery, which is a novel method of delivering therapeutics to the brain for a variety of disorders, including some primary brain tumors. They are also interested in the motion of blood cells in the microcirculation, which affects oxygen and nutrient transport to tissue. 

Prof. Paul Steen's group has solved a Schrödinger-like equation for the behavior of drops on solid surfaces to reveal the 'walking instability' of liquid sessile drops among other motions. According to this instability, the energy stored in the liquid shape can be converted into the energy of liquid motion representing a heretofore unknown pathway of energy conversion of potentially vast significance. To the extent that droplets on solid surfaces are found throughout our world, understanding and organizing their behaviors can serve many purposes including appreciating how nature works, engineering superior manufacturing processes and solving pressing energy challenges. 

Prof. Roseanna Zia's group develops predictive theory and computational models for the far-from equilibrium behavior of complex fluids and other soft matter undergoing low-Reynolds number flow. Her group's research focuses on three primary themes: structural evolution and particle transport in 3-D micro-confined suspensions; slow evolution during and sudden release from kinetic arrest in colloidal gels and glasses; and development of a broad non-equilibrium "equation of state," a generalization of Einstein's equilibrium theory. They develop predictive theory for far-from equilibrium material behavior in order to relate it to the microscopic mechanics of the constituent particles. 

Research Area Faculty

  Name Department Contact
laa25.jpg Archer, Lynden A.
James A. Friend Family Distinguished Professor of Engineering
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 348 Olin Hall
607 254-8825
cc112.jpg Cohen, Claude
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 318A Olin Hall
607 255-7292
sd386.jpg Daniel, Susan
Associate Professor
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 256 Olin Hall
607 255-4675
fe13.jpg Escobedo, Fernando A.
Marjorie L. Hart Professor of Engineering
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 377 Olin Hall
607 255-8243
ylj2.jpg Joo, Yong L.
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 340 Olin Hall
607 255-8591
dlk15.jpg Koch, Donald L.
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 250 Olin Hall
607 255-3484
wlo1.jpg Olbricht, William L.
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Biomedical Engineering 378 Olin Hall
607 255-4362
phs7.jpg Steen, Paul H.
Maxwell M. Upson Professor of Engineering
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 346 Olin Hall
607 255-4749
rnz6.jpg Zia, Roseanna N.
Assistant Professor, James C. and Rebecca Q. Morgan Sesquicentennial Faculty Fellow, and Associate Editor, Journal of Rheology
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 344 Olin Hall
607 254-3353