NYU Chemistry Professor Stefano Sacanna has received a 2017 NSF CAREER Award. The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is a "Foundation-wide activity that offers the National Science Foundation's most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations." This prestigious award will provide 5 years of support for the Sacanna Group's work on self-assembling colloidal materials. Congratulations to Stefano and his group!
Abstract: Creating an underlying microstructure can enable bulk materials to interact with energy in unique and unconventional ways. The result are emerging new properties that do not normally exist in nature. The practical realization of such materials, however, is not straightforward, as it requires creating microscopic features that are regularly spaced throughout a three-dimensional object. While this is not achievable via a classic top-down approach, colloidal self-assembly offers a conceptually simple route to impart such microscopic order in a bottom-up fashion. The principal investigator seeks to discover novel methodologies to manipulate and rationally assemble microscopic building blocks into complex micro-architectures and ultimately into functional new materials. Inexpensive polymers and simple electrostatic charges are used to mediate the binding interactions between the building blocks, thus effectively imparting assembly information. The results are complex "soups" of colloidal building blocks from which new materials are expected to self-assemble and emerge. The inherent interdisciplinary character of the project, which naturally bridges between chemistry, physics, and material science, offers a broad range of teaching opportunities from high school to graduate students. Educational and broader outreach goals include the development of a publicly available "colloidal library" - a Web Portal that connects students with research experts from various fields of science and industry.