Paschalis Alexandridis


photo of Alexandridis.

Paschalis Alexandridis


Paschalis Alexandridis


Research Topics

Self-assembly; directed assembly; complex fluids; soft materials; nanomaterials; interfacial phenomena; polymers; surfactants; particles; formulations; biomass processing; plastics recycling

Contact Information

508 Furnas Hall

Buffalo NY, 14260

Phone: (716) 645-1183

Fax: (716) 645-3822

Biography Publications Teaching Research Media

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.

Learn more about Paschalis Alexandridis' research

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.

  • What are the “right” components and the “right” conditions? Alexandridis utilizes commercially available amphiphilic molecules and develops formulations with desirable structure-property relations that are tailored for specific applications, e.g., pharmaceutics and personal care products, there the ingredients allowed are tightly regulated, or coatings and inks, where environmental considerations restrict the kinds of solvents used.
  • What if the conditions are no longer “right”? Alexandridis investigates ways to arrest the self-assembled structure and determines the kinetics of structure formation and dissolution. This is relevant to the synthesis of nanomaterials where the self-assembled structure serves as a template, but the synthesis conditions and/or by-products disturb the self-assembly. It is also relevant to the shelf-life of products that incorporate self-assembled components.
  • How can we “help” self-assembly? Alexandridis explores external fields, flow and electric, to orient self-assembled structure over macroscopic length scales, and to collect and organize nanoparticles in a hierarchical manner. The combination of self- and directed assembly has great potential in nanotechnology applications such as sensing, actuation, synthesis of nanocomposite and/or biomimetic materials.


Research interests

  • Self-assembly of amphiphiles: thermodynamics and dynamics
  • Block copolymer phase behavior and structure
  • Small-angle scattering characterization of soft nanomaterials
  • Rheology of complex fluids and structure-property relationships
  • Surfactant - polymer - colloidal particle interactions
  • Waterborne pharmaceutical, coating, and ink formulations
  • Biopolymer- and amphiphile-containing systems of biological significance
  • Templated synthesis of nanoparticles
  • Nanoparticle organization via external fields (directed assembly)