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Functionalization of Surfaces, Adsorption and Wetting, Physical Chemistry

Research in our group centers around chemistry of solid surfaces. We are interested in chemical functionalization of surfaces of solids (metals, metal oxides, minerals and organic polymers) mostly using methods of organosilicon chemistry (silane coupling agents). This chemistry enables one to control interactions at solid-solid, solid-liquid, and solid-vapor interfaces over a wide rage. Advanced applications of such materials are in the areas of adsorption and separation, wettability and adhesion, biomaterials, sensors, and catalysts. Some examples are demonstrated below.

  1. Hydrolysis and condensation of tetraethoxysilanes under controlled conditions produce silica with desired geometry, e.g. microspheres (right) or ordered mesopores (left) . Covalent functionalization of these silicas with monomolecular layers of organosilanes and siloxanes produce high surface area materials for applications in heterogeneous catalysis.
  2. By adsorption and fusion of lipid vesicles on silicas, lipid-coated nano-particles can be prepared. These particles combine properties of silicas (e.g. bulk density, high surface area) and those of lipid bilayers (fluidity, biocompatibility etc.), which can be used for modeling biological membranes, investigation of membrane proteins, protein-protein interactions, drug delivery, etc.
  3. Water-Hydrophobic interface has been in focus of colloid and interface chemistry for centuries.  Better understanding of water-hydrophobic interactions is of great fundamental importance and it aids in development of efficient low-energy repelling and protective coatings. We combine microscopic (ellipsometry) and macroscopic (water adsorption, water intrusion, and contact angles) methods in characterization of water-hydrophobic interactions in well-defined model surfaces as well as in complex systems, e.g. hydrophobic stationary phases in HPLC.