Polymer Self-Assembly

Block copolymers are a class of soft materials that self-assemble into well-defined mesophases on the nanometer length scale, which creates opportunities in a variety of contemporary applications from advanced lithography to drug delivery. Our group is interested in unraveling the fundamental connections between molecular design and self-assembly through the synthesis of new block copolymers, physical characterization (e.g., using synchrotron small-angle X-ray scattering and rheology), and collaborating with theorists (Prof. Glenn Fredrickson, UC Santa Barbara) to comprehensively understand the thermodynamics and kinetics of self-assembly. We recently discovered a new phase (“A15”) that has long been known in metals but never before observed in simple diblock copolymers. Ongoing studies continue to probe sequence and architecture effects with this fascinating class of materials.