What we do

Research

Currently, we are working on the following projects.

Environmental & Analytical Sciences:

Plastic pollution is a global concern and it is evident from recent literature that micron and nano-sized plastic materials are present almost everywhere. It is challenging to quantify how much plastic is present in the environment and how these tiny particles can affect our lives. Recent studies suggest that microplastics (size ~1-10 microns) can influence marine organisms in various ways. As nanoplastics (size < 1 micron) have a higher surface-to-volume ratio, nanoplastics can have more detrimental effects on living systems. As nanoplastics could be heterogeneous both in their chemical and morphological properties, quantification of specific effects is necessary to understand system-specific effects on living systems. We will use our knowledge of basic physical chemistry to understand the physicochemical behavior of nanoplastics at various model systems. We aim to understand the nanoscale transport of nanoplastics and the molecular orientation of various surface-bound molecules in response to nanoplastics at various interfaces and complex environments.

Materials:

Nanoscale transport of ions and molecules is important in many different fields, like drug delivery, molecular sensing, separations, and catalysis. E.g., in drug delivery applications different types of drugs (small molecule drugs or protein therapeutics) are transported to specific target locations, or in separations differential nanoscale molecular interaction leads to separations of analytes. We will use our expertise in single-particle (molecule) tracking and superresolution microscopy to understand transport in various materials systems (natural and engineered polymers).

Experimental methods

  • Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence (TIRF) Microscopy.

  • Phase Engineered 3D Microscopy.

  • Interferometric Scattering (iSCAT) Microscopy.

  • Vibrational Sum Frequency Generation (VSFG) Spectroscopy.