— What makes a nanocomposite material “smart”? Consider
clothing that can detect the presence of chemical weapons,
automatically seal its own pores, and then clean and
decontaminate itself. Today the U.S. Department of Defense
is funding research for fabric materials that do all
these things and are also stronger, more durable, and
lighter than current uniforms.
materials are becoming a reality and one of the world’s
leading experts in the field is Sergiy Minko, who
holds the Egon Matijevic´ Chair of Chemistry
at Clarkson University.
research explores responsive functional material based
on self-assembly in polymer and colloidal systems.
By studying the behavior of single molecules and the
assembly of a few molecules, Minko explained, researchers
are learning how nature assembles and reassembles
molecules to achieve certain properties. Certain natural
materials are capable of smart responses via external
stimuli such as temperature or an acidic or base environment.
is a good example of a material capable of smart responses
based on outside stimuli,” he said. “The pores open
and close based on temperature and humidity and thus
help the body to regulate its internal temperature.
Our interests are in understanding how nature has
programmed these molecules to react this way and then
to recreate the process synthetically.”
Clarkson, Minko has established the interdisciplinary
Nanostructured Materials Group with S.V. Babu, professor
of Chemical Engineering, and Igor Sokolov, professor
of Physics to explore fabrication and study of synthetic
and biomaterials at nanoscale, with a special interest
in materials for biomedical application, sensors and
research focuses on smart/responsive polymer materials,
smart colloids, nanostructured thin polymer films,
formation of nanowires and nanoparticles, adhesion,
wetting, adsorption regulations, single molecule devices,
and combinatorial methods in materials science. Applications
include smart pores (membranes), responsive colloids
and capsules, microvalves and pumps, environment-responsive
lithography, smart textiles, and hydrophilic/hydrophobic
of Minko’s current projects involves research in self-cleaning
fabrics sponsored by the National Textile Center.
Made of any common fabric, these materials will utilize
a water-repellant, dirt-repellant, environment-friendly
coating made of silver nanoparticles. Their wide applications
will include hospital and military garments, as well
as sportswear, awnings and convertible tops.
research is also supported by Procter & Gamble
and Xerox, and organizations such as the National
Science Foundation, NATO and New York’s Office of
Science, Technology and Academic Research (NYSTAR)
University, located in Potsdam, New York, is an independent
university with a reputation for developing innovative
leaders in engineering, business and the arts and
sciences. Its academically rigorous, collaborative
culture involves 2,700 undergraduates and 400 graduate
students in hands-on team projects, multidisciplinary
research, and real-world challenges. Many faculty
members achieve international recognition for their
scholarship and research, and teaching is a priority
at every level. For more information, visit http://www.clarkson.edu.