Surfaces and Complex Fluids

Our mission is to understand how complex fluids (including suspensions of polymers, colloids, nanoparticles, bacteria, viruses, and/or proteins) assemble and transport near surfaces that confine, crowd, or support them. This broad class of problems is scientifically fascinating the chemical and mechanical properties of surfaces and fluids can influence behaviors such as adhesion, diffusion, and motility. This class of problems also underpins important applications in materials processing, point-of-care diagnostics, and bioremediation, among others.

Microbiology Near Interfaces

			  aeruginosa bacteria

We use microfabrication and microscopy to investigate how bacteria move on, interact with, and adhere to interfaces (solid surfaces and fluid-fluid interfaces). We are working with Megan Robertson (UH ChBE) to prepare polymer substrates that modify bacterial motility and adhesion and with Patrick Cirino (UH ChBE) to engineer bacterial motility. We have collaborated externally with Arezoo Ardekani (Purdue), Douglas Bartlett (UCSD/Scripps), and Roseanne Ford (Virginia) to understand the role of motility on biodegradation.

Applications of this work include medical diagnostics, antifouling materials, and bioremediation.

Colloids in Confinement and in Flow

Binary colloidal alloy

We use confocal microscopy and bulk rheology to investigate the relationship between structure and mechanical properties for ordered (crystalline) and disordered (gels, glasses) colloidal suspensions during microchannel flow. We are working with Jeremy Palmer (UH ChBE) to develop simulations of particulate transport in complex, crowded media.

Applications for this work include feedstocks for 3D printing and advanced coatings.

Nanoparticles in Transport

Nanoparticles in solution

We use microfabrication and microscopy to investigate the transport properties of nanoparticles in model porous media and in non-Newtonian fluids (with Ramanan Krishnamoorti, UH ChBE, in solution and Amanda Marciel, Rice ChBE, in polymer brushes).

Applications for this work include drug delivery and nanocomposite processing.

Diagnostics for Public Health

Bacteriophage on a slide

We use microfluidics and particle-tracking to develop assays to detect proteins, viruses, and bacteria (with Richard Willson and Katerina Kourentzi, UH ChBE).

Applications for this work include ultrasensitive diagnostics for bioterrorism and public health.

Other problems

Your problem here!

We love to collaborate! We have expertise in particle tracking; brightfield, fluorescence, and confocal microscopy; dynamic and static light scattering; microfabrication and soft lithography; and rheology.

If you're interested in talking, contact us!

Recent Publications

strength of long wavelength fluctuations in quasi-2D supercooled liquids

The strength of long-wavelength fluctuations in quasi-2D systems depends on the pore size and fluid density (Roberts, Palmer, and Conrad, J. Phys. Chem. B (2023)).

Quick UH Links