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Program Highlights for year 2009

Polymers Under Constraint

fd virus is a polymeric virus 1 mm in length and 10 nm in diameter. We bind fluorescently labeled fd to 1 mm diameter polystyrene spheres creating a charged polymer stabilized colloid (hairy bead) and measure the interparticle potential using a double laser trap. We first measure the interaction energy of (a) bare beads and (b) then the hairy beads, seen here in fluorescence microscopy.


During the academic year, F08 - S09, Olin undergraduates Sean Calvo, Caitlin Greeley, Stephani Gulbrandsen, and Leif Jentoft designed, built, and tested a flexible automated microscopy platform capable of imaging an area up to 100mm x 100mm with a resolution of 10 microns at 4.8 second per square mm.

Active Emulsion

Stabilized emulsions containing the oscillating Belousov - Zhabotinsky chemical reaction (BZ) show interesting dynamics. Each drop acts as an independent chemical clock. However, they chemically communicate and exhibit collective behavior. In (a) three photos of the same hexagonally packed 100 micron diameter BZ drops are shown 80 seconds apart.

Chemical Modification of Epitaxial Graphene

The ability to modify the electronic structure and properties of graphene is an important step towards the large scale fabrication of electronic devices based on graphene technology.


Co-sponsored inaugural Gotham-Metro Condensed Matter Meeting Student-led one-day conference in hard and soft matter physics held at the New York Academy of Sciences

Making colloidal helices

Need microscopic swimmers for transport and mixing in micro- and nanofluidic devices.

Nanoscale Depth-Resolved Point Defects at SrTiO3 Growth Surfaces

Chemically-etched SrTiO3 is widely used as a clean, atomically-smooth template for epitaxical growth of most complex oxides. Since native point defects in these materials are electrically-active and mobile, there is a need to lower their density.

Site-Specific Stamping of Graphene

Graphene (2-D carbon) is being considered for spintronics due to its low spin-orbit coupling. While graphene-based devices are being made one-at-a-time successfully, there is a need for a high-throughput fabrication method.