Jan. 2021 Joe's paper entitled "Electric-field Driven Assembly of Dipolar Spheres Asymmetrically Confined between Two Electrodes" was published in ACS Nano.

July 2020 Tao's paper entitled "Reconfigurable Microbots Folded from Simple Colloidal Chains" was published in PNAS.

May 2020 Our proposal entilted "Real-space and Real-time Study of Two-dimensional Colloidal Quasicrystals" was funded by National Science Foundation.

May 2020 Yang's paper entitled "Transport of Colloidal Particles in Microscopic Porous Medium Analogues with Surface Charge Heterogeneity: Experiments and the Fundamental Role of Single-Bead Deposition" was published in Environmental Science & Technology.

About Our Research

Our primary research interest lies in finding simple and elegant ways to precisely control the structures of materials at different length scales. Multi-scale hierarchical structures are found abundantly in nature for surprisingly different purposes. For example, the amazing climbing abilities of geckos on different surfaces can be attributed to a hierarchical structure on their foot pads. Hierarchical structures on the lotus leaf makes the leaf surface both superhydrophobic and self-cleaning. In another totally different situation, Morpho butterflies show brilliant iridescent colors arising from very delicate and hierarchical structures on their wing scales.

All of these structures found in nature are formed by the so-called “bottom up” method, which is a self assembly of nano-scale building blocks into functional macroscopic structures. Taking advantage of their best properties individually and putting them together in a synergistic way is, however, not always an easy task for humankind. Our goal is to study and understand the fundamental principles of self- and guided- assembly of micro- and nano-“LEGOs”, such as polymers, nanoparticles, surfactants, etc. Based on our understandings, we will then develop economic routes (by integrating both bottom-up and top-down methods) to fabricate organic-inorganic hybrid materials with both hierarchical structures and multiple functionalities. Those revolutionary materials will have impacts on the development of more efficient photonic crystals, multi-functional and environmentally adaptive microrobots, as well as anti-agglomerates for gas hydrates.