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Triangle MRSEC Soft Matter Lab

Duke’s MRSEC Soft Matter Lab contains instrumentation for synthesis of colloids and biopolymers and for characterization of their assemblies. These include capacity for synthesis and purification of recombinant biopolymers, microfluidic production of colloids, high throughput production of nanoparticles. The primary Duke MRSEC research resources are housed in the Fitzpatrick Center for Interdisciplinary Engineering, Medicine and Applied Sciences (FCIEMAS). They include instruments and facilities that enable IRG1, IRG2 and Seed research projects that will be augmented as the Center matures. Instrumentation thus far include an upgraded AFM system, an upgraded contact angle goniometer system, a custom-built surface plasmon resonance system, a tissue culture laboratory, a system for interferometric nanolithography, a facility for expression of recombinant proteins and a temperature programmed multi-well UV/Vis spectroscopy system. The FCIEMAS MRSEC facilities are now fully functional and available to all MRSEC researchers. A secondary MRSEC resource at Duke is located in the French Family Science Center and includes a wire exploder facility consisting of a 20 F, 20 kV capacitor (storing 8,000 Joules) that, when charged and discharged across a metal or semiconducting wire (typically 0.5 mm in diameter, 70 mm in length), causes the wire to vaporize in a matter of microseconds, leaving behind a high yield of nanoparticles. The chemistry of the nanoparticles can be controlled not only by choosing to explode a wire made from a desired material, but also by the chemical content of the explosion medium, which can be either gas or liquid. With this method, tens of grams of nanoparticles of nearly any desired composition and surface chemistry can be generated in an hour. This capability will allow MRSEC researchers to make assemblies of particles containing nearly any desired composition, and at gram-scale quantities. The wire exploder is currently being upgraded with a new capacitor and instrumentation to enable improved monitoring and control of the explosion process, which will in turn enable greater control over particle sizes.