The focus of IRG3 is on the design, synthesis and processing of new classes of functional LC materials, composites and interfaces. Another focus of IRG3 is on understanding the role of simple salts in dictating the ordering of thermotropic liquid crystals at aqueous interfaces. IRG3 is also investigating the use of defects as “templates” for the synthesis of polymeric nanoparticles. The third theme of research IRG3 addresses revolves around the synthesis and characterization of three classes of LC soft solids - molecular LC gels, colloidal LC gels, and polymeric gels templated from lyotropic LCs.
My technical interests revolve around colloidal and interfacial phenomena. They span fundamental issues related to the origins of colloidal interactions through to the application of chemically tailored interfaces in chemical and biological sensors, biomedical devices and separations processes. We have designed and synthesized a range of surfactants that incorporate molecular triggers (redox-active and light-sensitive groups) that permit reversible control of surfactant-based properties of aqueous systems. We are exploring their use in separations processes and for the delivery of biomolecules to cells. We are particularly interested in colloidal forces in liquid crystalline phases, and we have designed liquid crystalline interfaces that permit chemical and biomolecular events to be amplified into easily measured signals in sensors. A third area of interest is related to interfacial engineering of wound beds, including characterization of the chemical functionality of wounds and management of microbial burden in wounds so as to promote wound healing. These technical interests are unified by the challenge of understanding molecules and their assemblies at interfaces.