(10y) Engineering Soft Functional Materials: From Self-Assembly to Field-Assisted Assembly

Authors: 
Razavi, S., University of Michigan
Research
Interests:
Engineering
Soft Functional Materials: From Self-assembly to Field-assisted Assembly


The ubiquity of self-assembly - the process of
creating organizational order in systems of components - in nature has inspired
technological developments towards synthetic building blocks that assemble into
desirable structures with a unique set of properties. Isotropic spherical
colloids are a simple example of such building blocks where their spatial arrangement
yields photonic crystals that exhibit structural color. The key step towards
engineering the assembly process is the ability to tune the interparticle
interactions. However, the experimental realization of target structures can be
challenging owing to the slow kinetics of the self-assembly process. There is a
concerted effort in the field to identify the factors that impact the particle-particle
interactions and control the assembly dynamics via external fields. What
happens when shape or surface anisotropic particles are used as building blocks
for assembly? How is the assembly in bulk different from the 2D assembly in the
presence of a fluid interface? What interactions are induced in the presence of
an external electric field? To address some of these questions, my research
focuses on the assembly of shape and surface anisotropic colloidal particles. I
present experiments on the application of fluid interfaces as a template for assembly
and discuss the role of particle surface properties in tuning the mechanical stability
and flow behavior of the assembled monolayer. External direct current fields
are used to control the dynamics of assembly in dense colloidal suspensions and
measurements of the electrophoretic mobility demonstrate the significance of
the dispersion electrokinetic properties and
suspension volume fraction. Given the need for generating shape-memory
colloidal structures suitable for applications where rapid, on demand
reconfiguration is required, I also present experiments on the actuation of dense
suspension of surface anisotropic colloidal fibres
using an external electric field. Insights obtained from all these studies
contribute to our fundamental understanding of the principles central to the
assembly processes and serve as a platform for engineering the bottom-up assembly
of functional materials. Using this knowledge, I plan to find new avenues for
engineering the assembly of soft functional materials.

Teaching
Interests:
Teaching is a great opportunity to contribute to the formal
education of the students. I have been fortunate to have the experience of both
teaching in a classroom and mentoring students in the lab.  I have been a teaching assistant in a
number of undergraduate courses including the transport phenomena and
nanotechnology. As a part of my classroom teaching responsibilities, I have designed
homework assignments, compiled some sources for various topics on the course
and given lectures on the molecular dynamics simulations and their importance in
the chemical engineering and materials science research. I believe that not
only it is crucial to educate the future engineers on the importance of the
traditional chemical engineering subjects, but is also essential to integrate computational
tools as a part of the course material in order to introduce these techniques
early on and discuss their relevance in advancing the field.  In addition to the classroom experience,
I have mentored both graduate and undergraduate students in the lab.  Besides training the students on various
research tools, I have always been passionate about encouraging critical
thinking, developing the students written and oral presentation skills, and training
the students to be independent researchers.





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