Self-assembly; directed assembly; complex fluids; soft materials; nanomaterials; interfacial phenomena; polymers; surfactants; particles; formulations; biomass processing; plastics recycling
508 Furnas Hall
Buffalo NY, 14260
Phone: (716) 645-1183
Fax: (716) 645-3822
Professor Alexandridis' research aims to create and manipulate molecular organization at the nano-scale and organization at the micron-scale of nano-objects via (a) the self-assembly of amphiphiles in a variety of conformations and length-scales, and/or (b) the use of prescribed external fields to direct macromolecules, assemblies, and/or particles.
Amphiphiles such as block copolymers, surfactants, lipids and proteins, posses moieties with an affinity for different environments. This molecular design enables amphiphiles to spontaneously organize: self-assembly. Self-assembly is an energy-efficient process that leads to functional, high value-added products with desired compartmentalization, compatibilization, rheological, and interfacial properties. Nano-scale objects resulting from self-assembly or (bio)synthesis (e.g., cells, nanoparticles) can be organized over larger length-scales, often in a hierarchical fashion, via the application of external fields (flow, electric): directed assembly.
According to the 2003 National Research Council report Beyond the Molecular Frontier, the development of "self-assembly as a useful approach to the synthesis and manufacturing of complex systems and materials" is one of the "grand challenges" that chemical engineers will face in the years to come.
Alexandridis' work impacts emerging paradigms of chemical engineering on molecular engineering of materials and on product design and development. In order for novel "smart", "nano", and "bio" materials to benefit society, they have to be (i) incorporated into products that meet customer needs and (ii) manufactured in an efficient manner with respect to cost and environment. Polymers, surfactants, proteins and nanoparticles, essential "ingredients" of Alexandridis' research, organized via self- and directed assembly methodologies, are well poised to meet the objectives of efficiently designing and manufacturing functional products.
Prof. Paschalis Alexandridis and his research group work to capitalize on the ability of amphiphilic, dual-nature, molecules to organize themselves into complex assemblies with structures from the nanoscale to the macroscale.
Self-assembly is an energy-efficient process (it occurs spontaneously) and can lead to products that are functional, responsive, and high value-added. All living creatures bear manifestations of self-assembly (e.g., cell membranes, collagen), and numerous technical products and processes take advantage of properties afforded by the self-assembly of surfactants, polymers, and/or colloidal particles. Properties imparted by self-assembly include compartmentalization, compatibilization, network formation, and surface modification.
The development of self-assembly as a useful approach to the synthesis and manufacturing of complex systems and materials is identified as a “Grant Challenge” according to the 2003 National Research Council report “Beyond the Molecular Frontier”. Alexandridis' research program, funded by NSF and industry and resulting in over 100 publications and 2 patents over the past 10 years, is tackling this grant challenge.
Self-assembly takes place spontaneously when the “right” components are at the “right” conditions, but things are not that simple.