Surf Project Archive 2013

Project HOME




Project Title



Valeria Milam, MSE - Johnathan Davis

Immobilized DNA aptamers

Biological macromolecules such as oligonucleotides have increasing importance as materials assembly and even synthesis tools. The research objective of this project is to immobilize oligonucleotides called aptamers to colloidal and two dimensional substrates to explore their capabilities to bind to gold nanoparticles. A range of techniques such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR), UV-vis spectroscopy, and microscopy will be used to prepare and analyze samples.


Vladimir Tsukruk, MSE - Rachel McGuire

Protective shells for cells and their arrays

Synthetic and natural macromolecular materials, block-copolymers 
and polyelectrolytes will be exploited for self-assembly of porous, permeable nanoscale shells for fabrication of microcapsules and protective shells for cell protection, delivery, and loading in different artificial environments and at solid substrates.


Seung Soon Jang, MSE - Madeline Davis

NanoBio Mechanics of DNA towards Biomolecular Machinery

Although numerous reports enhance our understanding of the role and structure of DNA in biological processes, our understanding of its physico-chemical properties and mechanical properties is less clear. The goal of this project is to investigate the sequence-dependent mechanical properties of DNA using the first-principles atomistic modeling techniques. Findings will provide useful insight into designing DNA-based molecular machines and devices as well as shed light on structural transitions of DNA during various biological processes.


Ken Gall, MSE

Biomaterials in Orthopedics

As a startup company, MedShape Solutions is actively developing novel materials for use in orthopedics. This project will focus on examining the use of shape memory polymers and porous materials in orthopedic devices.


Todd Sulchek, ME - Lynda Brady

Creation of multifunctional microrobots by mimicking microorganisms

Traversing biological barriers, such as an epithelial layer, can occur 
through biologically-mediated processes as demonstrated by some 
microorganisms; however, designing particles which can accomplish this task is a challenge. Using microfabrication shadowing, multifunctional particles will be prepared to mimic pathogenic processes in order to enter an epithelial cell layer, actively transport across the cell, and to exit the cell layer on the basal side. Orthogonal protein conjugation combinations will be employed to selectively attach only one protein type at high density to each spatially-defined region The effectiveness of the biologically inspired microrobots to cross epithelial barriers will then be tested.





Project Title



Robert Speyer, MSE - Matthew Orr

Development of Processes To Optimize Ballistic Performance of Lightweight Ceramic Armor

Verco Materials is developing and scaling boron carbide, silicon carbide, and tungsten carbide ceramics for armor and wear-resistance applications.  This project involves learning and perform processing and characterization methods such as spray drying, Archimedes density, pressing, CIPing, thermolysis, sintering, and HIPing.


Kimberly Kurtis, CEE

Interactions of eucalyptus fibers and cement-based matrix at early ages

Research and use of eucalyptus fibers as a sustainable option 
for reinforcement in cementitious material has been growing over the 
past decade, with examination generally focusing on the mechanical and the long-term performance of these composites. Since the addition of the fibers could affect the early hydration behavior of cement, this project aims to evaluate the eucalyptus fiber-cement interaction(s) in fiber-reinforced cementitious materials. Results from inductively coupled plasma (ICP) spectrometry, an x-ray photoelectron spectrometer (XPS), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and x-ray diffraction (XRD) will be used to identify the key interaction(s) of eucalyptus fibers with a cement matrix, providing a basis for design and optimization of the renewable fibers for this application.


Kimberly Kurtis, CEE

Preliminary studies of two-dimensional restraint testing at 
early ages

Although the main sources of cracking in stucco, a 
cement-based plaster, are stresses induced by restrained drying 
shrinkage, a combination of several phenomena such as cement hydration, drying, and the evolution of mechanical properties affects the development of stress at early ages, making the early-age cracking more difficult to analyze. This project aims to design a preliminary 
experiment for testing cement-based plaster in a two-dimensional 
restraint condition. By using digital image correlation techniques, the 
time-dependent strain distribution of the composite can eventually be 
used to provide new insightinto the complex early age behaviors 
occurring in fiber-reinforced plasters.


Kimberly Kurtis, CEE

Linking Structure to Performance in Cement-based Materials 
Through Quantitative Multiscale Characterization

The goal of this research is to apply the fundamental nano/microscale quantitative characterization methods developed, along with existing computational models, to build improved understanding of the implications of porosity and its interconnectivity on broader aspects of the performance of cement-based materials. Specifically, linkages between multi-scale porosity and (1) transport phenomena and (2) damage due to crystallization will be examined and used to inform performance-based specifications currently under development for the Georgia Department of Transportation.


Jason Nadler, GTRI - Maryam Mirsarraf

Nanocomposite phase change materials for thermal management

Carbon nanofiber - phase change nanocomposite sheets combine remarkably high thermal conductivity, heat absorption and flexibility, particularly for applications where convective and evaporative modes are unavailable.  The objective of this work is to investigate the relationships among the critical structural, chemical and interfacial features that contribute to heat transfer.  IR and scanning electron microscopy, Raman spectroscopy as well as DSC and DTA will support microheating studies focused on characterizing thermal performance.


Naresh Thadhani, MSE - John-Corey K. Mathis

Meso-scale Time-resolved Diagnostics Employing Photonic Crystals for 
Probing Dynamic Events in Particulate Materials

Photonic crystals and fibers have the potential of being used as 
meso-scale in-situ diagnostic probes to measure particle level compression, stress, and temperature, during high-pressure and high-strain-rate deformation of inert and reactive powders. The goal of the work will be to investigate the response of photonic crystals to shock compression uniaxial-strain loading. The photonic crystals (or photonic crystal fibers) will be subjected to shock loading using the laser-accelerated thin-foil impact set-up. Interferometry and stress gauge measurements of shock propagation characteristics in photonic crystals will be correlated with their emission spectrum to determine their response for their eventual use as meso-scale probes in particulate materials.


Rick Neu, ME

Thermomechanical Fatigue of Ni-base Superalloys

Ni-base superalloys are one of the highest temperature metal alloys used in applications requiring extreme temperature while maintaining good fatigue, creep, fracture toughness properties along with oxidation resistance. The overall goal of this project is to develop life prediction models for fatigue-oxidation interactions under complex thermal and mechanical cycles that this material would need to withstand in its application. This work involves thermomechanical fatigue experiments, aging experiments and modeling to investigate stability of the microstructure under service conditions, damage characterization in scanning electron microscopes, microstructure-sensitive viscoplasticity modeling, and determining the cyclic deformation behavior at potential crack formation sites in components using the finite element method.


Surya Kalidindi, ME

Microstructure Mechanical Property Measurements in Ti-6Al-4V through Nanoindentation

Ti-6Al-4V is a common alloy used in the aerospace industry with superior mechanical properties and a variety of microstructures through different thermo-mechanical processes. The objective of this research project is to characterize the local mechanical behavior of Ti-6Al-4V at the microstructure level using spherical nanoindentation to offer insight into its strengthening and failure mechanisms. In addition to nanoindentation, scanning electron microscopy and electron backscatter diffraction will be used to characterize the grain structure and orientation of samples prepared by mechanical and electro polishing.





Project Title



Michael A. Filler, ChBE

Engineering Multimodal Localized Surface Plasmon Resonances in Nanoscale Silicon

Nanoscale semiconductors have recently emerged as an alternative class of materials with which to engineer surface plasmon resonances for a range of electronic, photonic, and energy conversion applications. This objective of this project is to fabricate doped Si nanowires with multimodal plasmon resonances and study the influence of the environment on their spectral response. Scanning electron microscopy and infrared spectroscopy will be used to characterize nanowire morphology and optical properties, respectively. 


Zhiqun Lin, MSE - Zand Cohick

In-situ growth of semiconducting quantum dots in a conjugated 
polymer matrix for high efficiency organic-inorganic hybrid solar cells.

Placing conjugated polymers (CPs) in direct contact with 
semiconductor nanocrystals (NCs) provides a means of achieving a uniform dispersion of NCs, carrying advantages over cases in which NC aggregation dominates. The objective of this research project is to synthesize semiconducting quantum dots in the presence of conjugated polymer matrix for high efficiency hybrid solar cells. Transmission electron microscopy, x-ray diffraction, and UV-Vis and photoluminescence spectroscopy will be used to study the morphology, crystalline structures, and optoelectronic properties of these intimate organic-inorganic nanohybrids.


Shuman Xia, ME

In-situ Measurements of Electro-chemo-mechanical Coupling in Energy Storage Materials

The successful development and deployment of next generation high-performance rechargeable batteries rely critically on a fundamental understanding of the relevant properties and behaviors of electrochemically active electrode materials. The objective of this research is to develop a better understanding of electro-chemo-mechanical coupling phenomena in such materials. A home-made optical interferometric setup and atomic force microscopy (AFM) will be used for quantitative in-situ characterization of microstructure and material property evolution in a model lithium-ion battery cell.


Gleb Yushin, MSE - Amy Wagner

Supercapacitors Based on Nanostructured Electrodes

Supercapacitors are rechargeable electrochemical energy storage devices similar to batteries, but offering much longer cycle life and higher power performance. The objective of this research project is to explore new architectures of electrode materials for supercapacitors with enhanced power and energy densities. Scanning electron microscopy, energy dispersive spectroscopy, specific surface area and pore size distribution measurements will be used to study these novel materials. Assembling and testing supercapacitor devices will be used to reveal the key electrode structure-property relationships.


Min Zhou, ME

High-performance electrode materials for Li-ion rechargeable batteries

As the demand for portable electronics and electrical vehicles grows, the need for high-capacity rechargeable batteries increases significantly. Si has the highest known theoretical charge capacity among known materials for the negative electrodes of lithium ion rechargeable batteries and, therefore, is a very attractive candidate material for the next generation of batteries. The key challenge with Si-based anodes has been large volume changes during insertion and extraction of lithium that can lead to pulverization and debonding. Si nanowires and nanostructures made from Si nanowires have been demonstrated experimentally to be able to avoid the problems. This project involves analytical and computational studies of the electro-mechanical coupling in Si nanowire anodes.


John Reynolds, Chemistry -
Ali Mirsarraf

Donor-Acceptor Pi Conjugated Systems for Solar Energy Conversion

Pi conjugated electron donating (D) and accepting (A) species will be synthesized and matched with one another in D-A-D molecules and (D-A)n polymers. These materials are used in both bulk heterojunction polymer, and dye sensitized, solar cells with the goal of understanding how control of the electronic and interfacial states can be used to optimize photovoltaic efficiencies.


Seth Marder, Chemistry - Phillip E. Nwachokor

Materials for Organic Electronics and Photonics

This project involves the design, synthesis, purification and characterization of conjugated organic materials for electronic applications including field effect transistors and photovoltaic cells, as well as nonlinear optical materials for all optical signal processing applications.


Jud Ready, GTRI

Carbon Nanotube (CNT) Based Applications

CNT-enabled applications being studied are electrochemical double layer supercapacitors, 3-D light-trapping photovoltaic cells, electron emission sources, functionalized fabrics and neuronal prosthetics. DC and RF sputterers, e-beam and thermal evaporators, photolithography, clean room tools, electrical probe stations, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), x-ray diffractometers (XRD), plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD), molecular beam epitaxy (MBE), and ion beam assisted deposition (IBAD) will be used in this research effort.


Jean-Luc Bredas, Chemistry

Computational Modeling of the Electronic Structure of Organic Semiconductors for Solid-State Ligthing and Solar Cells

Organic semiconductors become increasingly used as the active elements in new generations of semiconductor devices such as light-emitting diodes (for displays and solid-state lighting), solar cells, or field-effect transistors. The design of new organic semiconductors is a key component in the quest for devices that are more efficient and help in conserving energy or in generating clean, renewable power. The goal of this project is to compute and compare the electronic structure of novel organic materials in view of their incorporation in devices. The project will consist of using a variety of quantum-chemical computational methods and/or molecular dynamics simulations to describe the structural, electronic, optical, and/or transport properties of organic semiconductors based on pi-conjugated oligomers or polymers.


Eric Vogel, MSE - Noah Ellis

Complex Metal Oxides for Nanoscale Resistance Change Memories

Nanoscale resistance change memories which use complex metal 
oxides such as hafnium dioxide are being considered for both conventional computing applications and nonconventional neuromorphic applications. The objective of this research is to explore the physical mechanisms responsible for voltage dependent resistance change in complex metal oxides. Electrical characterization techniques (current-voltage, capacitance, conductance, etc.) and physical characterization techniques (XPS, SIMS, conducting AFM) will be used to study these mechanisms.


Jim Gole, Physics

Nanostructure and Light Directed Interface Modification for Amplified Sensing and Microcatalysis

In developing interfaces, identifying micro-nanoscale materials phenomenon forms the framework for new approaches to sensing and analyte transduction. The overall goal of this project involves the development of MEMS/NEMS sensing/tagging/microreactor technology to investigate one or more of the following: (1) the effects of nanostructures at nonporous/microporous interfaces on sensitivity and conversion combining, for the first time, acid/base and semiconductor theory;  (2) the development of light enhanced electron transduction for amplified “Solar pumped sensing;” (3) the development of facile, high yield, nanoscale synthesis processes forming the novel interactive nanostructures necessary for the  interface modification, and (4) the development of platforms for microcatalysis.


Wenshan Cai, ECE - Jasper Lin

Metamaterial-Based Perfect Absorbers for Thin-Film Solar Cells

Artificially structured metamaterials have been suggested as a viable route to creating perfect optical absorbers, which are able to totally absorb the energy of incident light waves within a prescribed frequency range. The objective of this research is to design and implement metamaterial-based perfect absorbers for a novel photovoltaic device, in which a thin-film solar cell is directly embedded in the metamaterial structure as the non-metallic spacing layer sandwiched between two patterned metal films. Numerical and experimental techniques such as full-wave electromagnetic simulations, frequency-resolved spectroscopy, and optical and electron microscopy will be used for the design and testing of proposed materials and devices.


Faisal Alamgir, MSE -Nikolay Semenikhin

Solar Cell Design using Novel electrode Architecture

This project will center around the design, with layer-by-layer precision whenever possible, and the interrogation of novel electrode surfaces for energy capture in photoelectric and photo-electrochemical devices. The project will involve synthesis and characterization of functional electrode materials as well as device design and testing. The novel electrodes design will involve synthesis in high-surface area self-assembled TiO2-based semiconductors, and ultrathin metal- and polymer-based transparent conductors.


Baratunde Cola, ME - Kevin J. Chan

Temperature Dependent Thermal Conductivity of Ionic Liquid Redox Electrolyte used in Thermo-electrochemical Cells

Thermo-electrochemical Cells (TECs) are an attractive technology for direct heat-to-electricity energy conversion with low-cost raw materials.  The objective of this research project is to explore the temperature-dependent thermal conductivity of ionic liquids that could be used as solvents in TECs that are operated at higher than normal temperatures to enhance energy conversion efficiency. Transient plane source measurement will be used measure thermal conductivity as a function of temperature and simple theory will be applied to understand the measured results.    


Paul Kohl, ChBE, Daron Spence

New, non-Platinum Anionic Fuel Cells

Fuel cells have the potential to be low cost, high efficiency 
power sources for portable electronics, however, the existing Nafion, proton exchange membrane fuel cells face many challenges, including the need for costly platinum metal. The objective of this research project is to explore new anion conducting polymer materialsfor use as anion exchange membranes and ionomers for making three-dimensional electrodes. The research involves 
investing the microstructure of the 3D electrode and evaluating the 
operation of anionic fuel cells.



Watson Loh, UNICAMP
Valeria Milam, GT - Jessica Mangano

Preparation and investigation of liquid-crystal and plasmonic 
devices for nanotechnology applications

Controlled drug release in biochemically-triggered devices and the
directed self-assembly of plasmonic nanoparticles are two promising 
research areas which can be highlighted as new challenges in the field 
of nanotechnology. This project involves the preparation and 
investigation of dispersions of lyotropic liquid crystals as devices 
triggered by enzymes and plasmonic nanoparticles with stimuli-responsive self-assembly. The systems will be characterized mainly by small angle X-ray and light scattering (SAXS and LS) and UV-Vis spectroscopy.


Maenghyo Cho, Seoul National University
Min Zhou, GT

Computational design of composite materials

Heterogeneous composites such as fiber-reinforced polymers and ceramics take advantage of the interactions between their constituents to achieve enhanced strength and failure resistance. Modeling and simulation based computational design is an emerging technology that allows tailoring of material properties for specific applications. A multiscale simulation capability has been developed at Georgia Tech. This project involves using this capability to identify material microstructure hierarchies that maximizes properties such as strength and damage mitigating capacity.


Dan Eakins, Imperial College
Naresh Thadhani, GT - Tyler DiStefano

Development of a new small-bore Taylor-impact launcher

The Taylor impact test is a convenient method of determining the dynamic strength of materials at intermediate strain rates, and is a useful tool for developing and validating rate-dependent constitutive models. The test involves the impact of a rod-shaped specimen against a rigid plate at velocities of hundreds of meters per second, producing waves of deformation which travel down the rod axis. This project involves developing a Taylor-test capability at the Institute of Shock Physics (ISP), utilizing a recently developed small bore (12 mm ID) launcher system. The project will explore schemes for target mounting and alignment, diagnostics triggering, fragment mitigation and soft recovery. Additionally, initial impact experiments will be carried out using a high-speed framing camera and optical velocimetry. Time permitting, modeling will be carried out for the dynamic experiments using specialist finite element software.