William H. Honstead Professor of Chemical Engineering
BRL studies the electrical, structural, and chemical properties of innovatively designed nano- and bio- materials to enable the development of the next-generation-applications in biomedicine, electronics and nanomechanics. BRL investigates the fundamental science behind the biological and the nanoscale phenomena to rationally integrate them to develop high functionality/sensitivity nanotechnologies.
Current Interests: BRL is studying chemically and structurally modified graphenes produced by innovative techniques.
Graphene Science, Technology and BioNanoTechnology
BioNanoTechnology: By interfacing nanotechnology with biocomponents (a field now known as ‘Bionanotechnology’), in part by leveraging their specific biochemistries, novel bio-nano hybrid systems can be built. These hybrids can operate at high sensitivity and/or with unique functionalities originating from the multiplexed bio and nano phenomena. Such bio-nano interfacing has the potential to advance several applications, including biomolecular mechanics, biosensing, and biomolecular electronics. Graphene is a single atom thick sheet of sp2 hybridized carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb lattice. With its dense cloud of charge carriers confined in atomic thickness and its large chemically modifiable surface area, graphene is a promising material for electronic sensing systems, electro-switches, biotechnology, and defense applications. BRL is studying the effect of several chemical and structural modifications of graphene on its electrical, optical, and interfacial properties. The modified-graphene-hybrids being studied include graphene nanoribbons, graphene-gold hybrid, graphene-DNA, graphene-bacteria, graphene-proteins, and graphene-azo.
Graphene Nanotechnology: Because of the edge states and quantum confinement, the shape and size of graphene nanostructures dictate their electrical, optical, magnetic and chemical properties. BRL has developed a route to produce graphene nanostructures with predetermined shapes (square, rectangle, triangle and ribbon) and controlled dimensions via diamond-edge-induced nanotomy (nanoscale-cutting) of graphite into graphite nanoblocks. Currently, BRL is studying the transport properties throught graphene quantum dots and nanoribbons.
Graphene Science and Technology: Graphene – single atom-thick sheet of sp2-hybridized carbon atoms – exhibits several fundamentally unique and arguably superior properties. These include highest carrier mobility at RT, ultrafast photo-detection, single molecule sensitivity, hydrogen visualization-template for TEM, tunable spintronics, high optical absorptivity (2.3%), high thermal conductivity (25 X silicon), and high mechanical strength (strongest nanomaterial). BRL has made significant contributions towards outlining the underlying phenomena defining graphene-based: detection, functionalization, exfoliation, nanoparticle-incorporation, and bio-interfaces.
Novel Atomically-Thick Nanomaterials: BRL has been working on synthesizing and studying the properties of several (next-generation) atomically-thick nano-materials: (a) Exfoliation of single-atom-thick sheets of Boron Nitride (BN). With a large band-gap and low optical absorbance, these ultrathin sheets will act as atomic-tunneling-barriers, which BRL is incorporating between conducting nanoparticles. The passage of the electrons through the BN’s energy-levels produces UV-photons (~ 6 eV). BRL is studying these photon-emission and other fundamental optical properties of BN dispersions as a function of surface chemistry. (b) BRL is studying the surface-sensitivity of Molybdenum Disulphide (MoS2) monolayers (3 atoms thick).