Materials that possess structural hierarchy have a special range of properties that span across several length scales from the nano- to the macroscale. A variety of examples are seen in Nature, such as collagen assembling into fibrils, fibers, and extracellular matrices and tissues. Our goal focuses on developing novel processing methods for fabricating macroscopic hierarchical structures from chemically tailored nanoscale particles and understanding their associated properties.
In collaboration with Prof. Todd Emrick, we exploit functional ligand chemistries to enable the creation of nanoparticle ribbons and fabrics that have excellent structural integrity. The nanoparticle assemblies are released from their underlying substrate to reveal flexible and robust macroscale structures. The flexibility is defined by the balance of the particle core size, ligand properties, particle packing, as well as ribbon and fabric geometry. These materials offer tremendous potential for the design of flexible electronics, new optical devices, membranes, as well as protective coatings and materials for encapsulation and delivery of small objects.