MSE Research Laboratories

Additive Assembly Laboratory

William Boley

The growing demand for customized three-dimensional (3D) functional materials is driven by myriad applications. New advances in materials design, manufacturing, and multi-scale architectures are needed to meet these demands. As such, AAL focuses on understanding and harnessing the relationships between materials synthesis, assembly process, and multi-scale architecture in additive manufacturing (AM) to create new functional materials and devices.

Advanced Materials Process Control Laboratory

Michael Gevelber

Research in this laboratory focuses on improving materials processing capabilities by applying a controls-based approach. Our controls-based approach integrates process modeling, sensor development, both system and control design, and experimentation to achieve greater control of material microstructure as well as improving yield and maximizing production rate. Research projects, typically conducted with industry partners, span a range of application areas including opto-electronic applications, advanced engines, power systems, and biomedical applications. Ongoing research projects include real-time control for plasma spray for thermal barrier coatings and fuel cells, e-beam deposition for precision optical coatings, electrospinning of nanofibers, chemical vapor deposition, and Czochralski crystal growth. Research is also being conducted on developing intelligent control and sensing approaches for optimizing building HVAC systems, using university buildings to test out new ideas.

Applied Electromagnetics

Mark Horenstein and Malay Mazumder

This laboratory is devoted to problems in experimental electromagnetics with a primary focus on medical and industrial electrostatics, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS), and sensors. Current projects include transdermal injection of medicinal nanoparticles via pulsed electric fields, development of a passive laser communication node using a MEMS retro-reflective mirror, the design of a “smart-joint” variable-stiffness endoscope, the use of an electrodynamic screen to remove dust particles from solar collectors, and the development of a new type of electrostatic-based, dry powder inhaler. The research work also involves experimental studies on particle electrodynamic motion, optical characterization reflectivity and transmission properties of solar collectors, and development of pulsed three-phase HV power supplies for activating electrodynamic screens.

Atomic Membrane Lab

Scott Bunch

Our lab focuses on the nanomechanical properties of a new class of 2D atomically thin materials such as graphene – single atomic layers of graphite. We are most interested in their remarkable mechanical properties such as high strength, extreme flexibility, and unprecedented barrier properties. We fabricate and characterize nanomechanical devices such as suspended “atomic drumskins” which vibrate at MHz frequencies and stretch with applied pressure differences. This unique geometry has allowed us to experimentally measure a number of physical properties of 2D materials such as their elastic constants, molecular transport and barrier properties, and adhesive interactions. These atomically thin membranes act as barriers for gases and liquids and represent the thinnest membrane possible (one layer of atoms) with the smallest potential pore sizes attainable (single atomic vacancies), and unprecedented mechanical stability. The applications that we are primarily interested in are semipermeable membranes for gas or liquid separations and nanoelectromechanical sensors.

Caradonna Group

John Caradonna

The Caradonna research group is interested in understanding the mechanism of action of non-heme iron metalloproteins, with a focus on the chemistry of metalloenzyme active sites involved in biological oxidation reactions. Our efforts span the continuum from the investigation of small molecule synthetic complexes that catalyze oxygen atom transfer reactions, to the characterization of an interesting class of iron/pterin-dependent aromatic amino acid hydroxylases (phenylalanine, tyrosine, and tryptophan hydroxylases), to the computational design of functional metalloproteins (iron-sulfur-based electron transfer clusters, Fe and Mn superoxide dismutanse). A broad-based approach, including chemical, molecular biological, and biophysical (spectroscopic) techniques, is used to develop a global understanding of the intrinsic characteristics of the active site metal centers and the role played by the protein matrix in regulating, modulating, and tunning these properties.

Campbell Group

David Campbell

The Campbell Group is part of the Condensed Matter Theory section at the Physics Department of Boston University.  We currently conduct research in three areas: ultracold atomic gases, graphene devices and the functional renormalization group.  Our broader interests include chaos, nonlinear phenomena, exotic ground states, strongly correlated electronic systems, and low-dimensional materials.

Cell and Tissue Mechanics Laboratory

Dimitrjie Stamenovic

Fundamental and applied research of cell mechanics and cell and soft tissue rheology

  • Modeling mechanical and rheological properties of the cytoskeleton of living cells at the whole cell and subcellular lengthscales
  • Modeling cell-substrate and cell-cell interactions and their effects on cell shape, orientation and homeostasis
  • Modeling of pneumatic osteoarthritis knee brace.

Coker Group

David Coker

David Coker’s research group in Theoretical and Computational Chemistry studies excited state dynamics in condensed phase complex systems. Using simulation and electronic structure methods they are developing accurate models, the quantum dynamics of which, can be treated reliably with their partial linearized density matrix propagation approach. The group’s research activities include: 1) exploring how exciton transport in biological and synthetic light harvesting systems is influenced by local variation of chromophore environment and chromophore density, 2) studying the dynamics of multi domain complexes in which exciton transport is followed by competing charge separation and recombination processes, 3) incorporating new semiclassical mapping Hamiltonian methods for treating dynamics of many electron systems into their partial linearized propagation approach to treat dense systems of strongly interacting chromophores, and 4) developing a new approach to sample the initial Wigner distribution characterizing multistate thermal equilibrium that is required for the general implementation of their quantum dynamics methods. This research has the potential for broad impact in several areas of scientific and societal importance including solar energy technology, first principles design of new materials, and quantum information science.

Computational Electronics Laboratory

Enrico Bellotti

The Computational Electronics Laboratory (CEL) is equipped with state-of-the-art computing resources. The lab operates a hybrid shared/distributed memory cluster, employing over 2TB RAM and 392 processors spread over twenty networked nodes running BULinux. The Computational Electronics Group develops numerical techniques and software to study semiconductor materials and to perform electronic and opto-electronic device simulation. Commercial software packages, such as Synopsysis TCAD, complement independently developed tools. Specific applications include calculation of the electronic band structure calculations for material defects, semi-empirical evaluation of material properties, and electrical/electromagnetic characterization of infrared detectors and power electronics.

Computational Energy Laboratory

Emily Ryan

The Computational Energy Laboratory (CEL) uses multi-physics computational methods to investigate alternative and advanced energy technologies. Our research focuses on developing computational models of the reactive transport, fluid mechanics, heat transfer and electrochemistry to investigate the design and operation of energy related systems, such as high temperature fuel cells, advanced battery technologies, subsurface transport and post combustion carbon capture. Central to the research in CEL is reactive transport in porous media, which is critical to many energy-related technologies and their operation and degradation.

Daniel Segre Lab

Daniel Segrè

Through a combination of mathematical modeling and experimental methods, we study the dynamics and evolution of metabolism in individual microbial species and in microbial ecosystems. We are interested both in the fundamental principles of biological organization, as well as in applications, especially in the areas of human disease, metabolic engineering, and environmental sustainability.

Dennis Lab

Allison Dennis

The Dennis Lab is focused on advanced semiconductor quantum dot synthesis for biomedical imaging and biosensing applications. Our unique core/shell colloidal nanocrystals fluoresce brightly under ultraviolet illumination, emitting colors from blue into the near infrared. We are particularly interested in near infrared emitters for tissue-depth imaging and visible emitters for biosensing using fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET).

Doerrer Group

Linda Doerrer

The Doerrer research group specializes in synthetic inorganic chemistry and is an equal-opportunity element utilizer. Currently there are four main avenues of research in the group: The first two areas involve the use of highly fluorinated aryloxide and alkoxide ligands for the (perhaps transient) stabilization of high oxidation states in first-row transition metals. These complexes are being investigated for C-H oxidation and functionalization with Cu(I)/O2 or Cu(II) as well as for O-H activation in water oxidation with other late first-row transition metals. The third area of research involves metal-metal bonds and metal-metal interactions. We are interested in using the phenomenon of metallophilicity, which is the attraction of electron rich (pseudo) closed-shell metal centers e.g. d10 Au(I), d8 Pt(II), for each other. We have used these relatively weaker attractive forces in combination with electrostatics to form one-dimensional chains of metal atoms for investigation as low-dimensional semi-conductors. More recently heterobimetallic lantern complexes containing unpaired electrons have also been assembled with metallophilic interactions. The fourth area of research is our most recent work. We have begun investigating Fe3O4 nanoparticles and variations on that theme as contrast agents.

Engineering Materials for Energy & the Environment Laboratory

Jillian Goldfarb

The EME2Lab tackles issues surrounding the past, present and future generation of energy, and its impact on the environment. These include: (1) mitigating the environmental impacts of energy-derived pollutants via improved understanding of contaminant behavior, (2) developing new materials to reduce waste and remediate or retard the spread of contaminants, and (3) investigating economically viable and industrially scalable alternative energy sources through byproduct and waste conversion pathways.

FemtoSpec Laboratory

Richard Averitt, Larry Zeigler, Shyam Erramilli and Kenneth Rothschild

Ultrafast laser spectroscopy is increasingly becoming an indispensable tool for studying the properties of materials. This laboratory aims to develop an advanced femtosecond laser spectroscopy system that will be applicable to a broad range of multidisciplinary problems in the fields of condensed matter physics, chemistry, and biology. Examples of topics to be focused on include quasiparticle dynamics in multifunctional materials, band gaps in carbon nanotubes, molecular events in biological energy conversion and photosensing, ultrafast response to light of heme proteins and the structure of biological polymers such as mucin using high sensitivity 2D-IR. Many studies will be facilitated by the ability of the new instrument to probe the same sample over a broad range of wavelengths from the far-IR to UV and detect small changes in absorbance. This capability should open a new window on ultrafast processes that up to now have been difficult to investigate.

Fraunhofer Center for Manufacturing Innovation (CMI)

Andre Sharon

The Fraunhofer Center for Manufacturing Innovation (CMI), a collaboration between Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Europe’s largest R&D organization and Boston University, conducts research and complements the R&D needs of a broad range of industries, including biotechnology, photonics, manufacturing, and renewable energy. Engineers, scientists, faculty, and students at the Center transform emerging research into viable technology solutions that meet the needs of both domestic and global companies. Our research areas include high precision automation systems, laboratory assays, instruments, and devices.

Grinstaff Lab

Mark Grinstaff

The Grinstaff Group pursues highly interdisciplinary research in the areas of biomedical engineering and macromolecular chemistry. The major goal in these research projects is to elucidate the underlying fundamental chemistry and engineering principles and to use that insight to direct our creative and scientific efforts.

Hu Lab – Light and Quantum Materials

Wanzheng Hu

Our research interest is to optically access quantum materials with high sensitivity, and optically control their physical properties at ultrafast speed. Utilizing ultra-short laser pulses, we will develop new spectroscopic techniques capable to access the rich quantum behavior in atomically-thin materials at cryogenic temperatures and under ultra-high vacuum conditions. We will also manipulate the physical properties of quantum materials using light control to explore novel quantum phases inaccessible at equilibrium.

High Temperature Oxidation Laboratory

Soumendra N. Basu

The research thrust of this laboratory is to investigate the high temperature oxidation behavior of materials by exposing metal and ceramic samples to corrosive atmospheres containing oxygen and sulfur at elevated temperatures up to 1,400°C. The laboratory is equipped with a CAHN thermogravimetric balance and a Mettler microbalance for weight gain measurements, as well as an apparatus for oxidation in O-18 atmospheres, in order to determine oxidation mechanisms.

Interfacial Fluid Dynamics Laboratory

James Bird

Bird’s research group, located in the Interfacial Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, investigates a variety of phenomena that are dominated by interfacial forces, such as surface tension. These projects range from measuring the drainage and rupture of bubbles to modeling how oil flows through porous rock. Because these phenomena are often counter-intuitive, the group’s approach is to combine carefully controlled bench-top experiments with theoretical modeling. Experimental techniques include interferometry, microfluidics, and high-speed photography. The new physical insights gained from these projects can be applied to problems in manufacturing (e.g. controlling the degassing of bubbles in molten glass), energy (e.g. determining how best to extract oil from porous reservoirs), and the environment (e.g. reducing uncertainty in climate models by better characterizing marine aerosol production).

Jeffries-El Research Group

Malika Jeffries-El

Organic semiconductors are a unique class of materials that combine the processability of organic materials with the optical and electronic properties of semiconductors. These complex materials impact several areas of technological importance including energy (solar cells), displays, (light emitting diodes), electronics (field effect transistors), and health (sensors). These carbon-based small molecules, oligomers or polymers that were initially envisioned as replacements for silicon and rare-earth metals based semiconductors widely used today. However, organic materials can be used to produce devices with properties that cannot be attained with inorganic materials, such as color tuning and fabrication on irregular surfaces. Although there are many known organic semiconductors issues such as the scalability of chemical synthesis, elimination of defects within the materials and overall improvements in performance need to be addressed allow for advancements in the large-scale manufacture of ”plastic” electronics. Drawing upon my formal training in the area of organic chemistry, I am able to employ an atomic level approach toward developing new organic semiconductors.

Ji-Xin Cheng Group

Ji-Xin Cheng

The lab develops and applies molecular spectroscopic imaging and cell modulation technologies to enable discovery-driven research towards marker-based precise diagnosis and/or treatment of human diseases. With integrated expertise in engineering, physics, chemistry, biology, medicine and entrepreneurship, our research team is devoted to: development of imaging tools, discovery of new biology and delivery to clinic.

Lab for Engineering Education & Development (LEED)

Muhammad H. Zaman

A key component of our research activity is focused on developing smart, simple and cost-effective devices for invasive and non-invasive diagnostics. Our strategy is problem-focused rather than platform-focused as we try to optimize our platforms for specific needs in the field. With the help of our partner companies and institutions, versions of the prototype are tested in the field for feasibility before development of a full-scale solution.

Laboratory for Diagnostics and Global Healthcare Technologies

Catherine Klapperich

The Klapperich Laboratory for Diagnostics and Global Healthcare Technologies is focused on the design and engineering of manufacturable, disposable systems for low-cost point-of-care molecular diagnostics. We have invented technologies to perform microfluidic sample preparation for bacterial and viral targets from several human body fluids including, urine, blood, stool and nasowash. These technologies include nucleic acid extraction, protein extraction, microorganism enrichment and/or concentration and small-scale dialysis. We are currently working on devices for the detection and quantification of HIV, hemorrhagic fevers, infectious diarrheas, influenza, MRSA, and cancer biomarkers. Projects include detection by PCR, isothermal amplification, and novel optical techniques. Our main application area is global health. We consider assay development, device design, sample flow, storage and transport all opportunities to drive down the cost and increase the accessibility of molecular tests in the developing world.

Laboratory for Microsystems Technology

Xin Zhang

The Laboratory for Microsystems Technology (LMST), directed by Professor Xin Zhang, was founded in 2002 as a college-wide, student-centered, interdisciplinary research and education program in the broad area of micro- and nanoelectromechanical systems (MEMS/NEMS or micro/nanosystems). Our research includes fundamental and applied aspects of MEMS and nanotechnology. Specifically, we seek to understand and exploit interesting characteristics of micro/nanomaterials, micro/nanomechanics, and micro/nanomanufacturing technologies with forward-looking engineering efforts and practical applications ranging from energy to health care to homeland security.

Laboratory of Redox Enzymolgy

Sean Elliott

The Elliott Group in the Department of Chemistry at Boston University combines interests in bioinorganic chemistry, mechanistic enzymology, electrochemistry, bioinformatics and microbiology, in order to understand how biological macromolecules catalyze redox transformations. In short: our interests are how Nature manipulate electrons to achieve the chemistry of the world around us. Our group motto is, “Bringing the electrons since 2002”.

Ling Lab

Xi Ling

The Ling Group focuses their research interests on the fundamental science and applications of nanomaterials and their hybrid structures. They specialized in the synthesis of two-dimensional (2D) van der Waals materials, their characterization through spectroscopy, and their implementation to develop novel nanodevices. They aim to use their interdisciplinary knowledge to (1) explore an effective method to synthesize functional hybrid nanostructures directly in a controlled manner, (2) reveal the physical nature of such nanomaterials and the interface phenomenon of their hybrid structures using advanced spectroscopy techniques, and (3) develop high performance, multifunctional flexible and transparent devices for energy conversion and chemical sensing. The group shares their core values of learning, innovation, integrity, collaboration and service.

Material Robotics Lab (MRL)

Sheila Russo

The Material Robotics Lab focuses on design, mechanics, and manufacturing of novel multi-scale and multi-material biomedical robotic systems. The research areas include medical and surgical robotics, soft robotics, sensing and actuation, meso- and micro-scale manufacturing techniques, and advanced materials.

The lab investigates scalable, advanced manufacturing technologies to develop soft-foldable devices, with high topological complexity and degrees of freedom, able to perform advanced surgical tasks. The team also develops new multi-functional soft material composites and investigating different sensing strategies as well as actuation methodologies to improve the range of capabilities of soft medical robots. Additionally, the lab creates hybrid soft-foldable robots incorporating soft materials and rigid structural components, taking inspiration from the principles of origami and kirigami, and embed distributed sensors and actuators directly into the materials of the robot’s body. Our methods combine accuracy, scalability, flexibility in material selection, and monolithic integration of electrical and mechanical components with soft, biocompatible materials and microfluidics from the realm of soft lithography. The goal is to develop solutions to improve existing medical procedures and enable new therapeutic capabilities in minimally invasive surgery.

Materials Lab for Energy and Environmental Sustainability

Uday Pal

The laboratory conducts research on (1) SOM (Solid-Oxide Oxygen-Ion-Conducting Membrane) Process for Electrolysis of Metals and Alloys from their Oxides; (2) Solid Oxide Electrolyte Electrolyzer for the production of pure hydrogen and syn-gas from a source of waste and steam; (3) Novel Continuous Co-firing Process for Fabrication of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells ; (4) Large Scale Rapid Response Energy Storage and Electrical Energy Generation System; and (5) Fundamental Studies on Cathode Materials for Solid Oxide Fuel Cells.

Materials X-Ray Diffraction Laboratory

Karl Ludwig

Our research investigates how materials evolve on atomic and nano-length scales as they change from one form to another. In particular, we use real-time x-ray techniques to examine structural evolution during phase transitions, thin film growth and surface processing. Many of the experiments use the high brightness of synchrotron x-ray sources – the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS) at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island and the Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne National Laboratory outside of Chicago. Where possible, we make contact with fundamental theory and simulation. In the last few years, our detailed interest has been in three directions – understanding surface and thin film processes, investigating nanoscale dynamics in metallic alloys using coherent x-ray scattering and studying the relationship between atomic structure and function in solid oxide fuel cell cathodes. Many of our in-situ studies utilize a unique ultra-high vacuum growth and surface modification facility, that we have helped develop, on the insertion-device beamline X21 at the NSLS. We have been using it to examine surface morphology evolution during ion bombardment (which can cause the spontaneous growth of surface nanostructures) and issues related to the growth of wide-bandgap group III-V semiconductor films using plasma-assisted molecular beam epitaxy (in collaboration with Professor Moustakas in Electrical Engineering). Coherent x-ray scattering provides the ability to probe nanoscale dynamics in metallic alloys and other materials systems. Partially coherent x-ray beams are created using small (10 micron) slits in conjunction with a high-brilliance 3rd generation synchrotron source, such as the APS. The disorder in the alloys produces speckle patterns in the scattered x-ray intensity. The evolution of the speckle pattern can then be related to the underlying dynamics of structural changes (e.g. ordering, phase separation or stacking fault rearrangement) in the alloy. Solid oxide fuel cells offer the potential for highly efficient energy conversion, but improvements in cathode function are needed before their potential can be fully realized. In collaboration with Professors Pal, Basu and Gopalan in Engineering and Professor Smith in Physics, we are examining in-situ the near-surface atomic structure of cathode materials in order to better understand the relationship between function and structure.


Matrix Mechanotransduction Lab

Michael Smith

The form and function of cells and tissues is regulated by various properties of their local microenvironment such as rigidity and cell shape. In vivo, these properties are defined by the extracellular matrix (ECM) and adjacent cells. During dynamic processes such as development, these properties regulate ECM turnover and remodeling in addition to cell movement, proliferation, and contractility. This newly remodeled matrix and altered tissue shape then redefines the local microenvironment, thus further enjoining the cell response in an iterative, closed loop which leads to the coordinated self assembly of higher order structures. The ECM is more than a passive mechanical element in this process since it presents an array of binding sites for cells and cell signaling molecules. Furthermore, cell contractile forces stretch some components of the ECM, for example fibrillar structures composed of the protein fibronectin (Fn), into non-equilibrium conformations that have altered signaling properties. This can occur through protein unfolding, thus exposing amino acids with cell signaling functions that are normally buried in the equilibrium fold of the protein. Understanding how these microenvironmental properties regulate cell fate should increase the clinical efficacy of tissue engineering scaffolds that depend upon both biochemical and physical cues. Alternatively, engineered cell culture platforms might permit long-term maintenance of cell phenotype in vitro, thus permitting diagnostic research on the laboratory bench that might otherwise require animal experimentation. However, much remains to be learned about how these properties converge to direct cell fate in vivo. Predictions derived from reductionist systems often break down in more complicated environments. Broadly speaking, my lab focuses on quantifying the relationship between environmental cues and ECM production, elucidating the mechanisms by which Fn tension and unfolding alters its cell signaling capacity, and finally engineering culture environments to control the form and function of the ECM. These goals are accomplished using an interdisciplinary toolbox including a spectroscopic approach for quantifying strain within Fn matrix fibrils and microfabricated cell culture environments.

Mechanics of Slender Structures

Douglas Holmes

We are interested in understanding and controlling the mechanics, physics, and geometry of  thin structures, and our lab aims to harness material and structural instability for advanced functionality.  Our research has utilized elastic instabilities to pattern surfaces with deformable shells, described the mechanics of wrinkling and folding thin films, and quantified the dynamics shape change of snapping beams and shells. We have utilized the swelling of elastomers as a means for controlling beam bending, and electrically active polymers for the controlled deformation and buckling of thin structures to control microfluidic fluid flow.

The Mesoscale Soft Matter Lab

Keith Brown

The Brown group is an interdisciplinary research program at the intersection of nanotechnology and soft materials with three goals: (1) Learn how to make novel materials by merging the strengths of top-down patterning and bottom-up assembly. (2) Investigate how mesoscopic order affects the behavior of soft materials such as polymers and proteins. (3) Apply these lessons to make new materials and devices that leverage hierarchical structure.

Mesostructured Materials and Devices laboratory

Jörg G. Werner
In the Mesostructured Materials and Devices (MeMaD) research group, we are interested in the interplay of functional materials and structures with features sizes from the nano- to the microscale, with focus on spatially controlled and nanoconfined synthesis. We study the fundamental aspects of phase separation and self-assembly of complex fluids and amphiphiles such as block copolymers into equilibrium and non-equilibrium morphologies. We utilize such bottom-up assembly methods to create mesostructured architectures of a multitude of functional soft and hard materials, as well as mesohybrids with distinct multiphasic interdigitation.

Microscopy Laboratory

Soumendra N. Basu

This laboratory is dedicated to the preparation of electron transparent specimens for observation in the Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM). Specimens have to be reduced to thickness in the order of 100Å in order to study atomic arrangements by high resolution TEM. Equipment available for this purpose includes a GATAN dimpler and ion-mill, as well as precision grinding and polishing apparatus.

Morphable Biorobotics

Tommaso Ranzani

The Morphable Biorobotics lab focuses on robotics, and how robotic technologies can impact society. It is particularly interested in how robotics can improve our lives and create new opportunities in fields like medicine, surgery, rehabilitation, and exploration. The research focuses on design and manufacturing of novel robotic systems that exploit advanced materials, novel actuation, and sensing modalities to operate in highly unstructured and complex environments. This requires a strong interdisciplinary research effort in mechanics, materials, design, and manufacturing to build novel robotic platforms able to exploit their structure as well as the materials they are made of, to address challenging real-world scenarios. In addition, novel approaches to robot architectures and components require the development of appropriate control strategies for systems that integrate these components. The lab uses bioinspiration as a design tool. Nature can provide powerful inspiration sources for finding solutions to engineering problems. In particular, the study of how animals use soft body parts to move in complex, unpredictable environments can provide useful design tools for robotic applications. Mimicking animals requires investigating the most suitable technological solutions, and often new hardware and software approaches have to be developed as well, including new materials, mechanisms, sensors, actuators, and control schemes. The two main research areas of the lab are Soft Robotics and Medical Devices. We aim at developing the next generation of medical devices and robots capable of providing advanced adaptation capabilities to unstructured and complex environments. We are particularly interested in how robotics could change the way therapy is delivered, enabling less invasive and more effective approaches to become viable.

Multifunctional Materials Spectroscopy Laboratory

Richard Averitt

In this lab we use time-resolved optical spectroscopy spanning from the far infrared through the visible to characterize the fundamental and technologically relevant properties of a host of interesting materials. In some cases we design, fabricate, and characterize our own artificial materials, but we also collaborate with colleagues from all over the world to characterize interesting artificial and quantum-based materials that they create. The beauty of optical spectroscopy, whether it is time-resolved or time-integrated, is its breadth of applicability to meaningfully study virtually any material you can imagine. With a very collaborative and multidisciplinary mindset, that is exactly what we do.

Multiscale Laser Lithography Laboratory (ML-cubed)

Alice White

With the installation of a Nanoscribe Photonics Professional GT Direct Laser Writing (DLW) tool, Professir Alice White’s Multiscale Laser Lithography Laboratory now has the capability to rapidly prototype 3D polymer structures with nanoscale resolution over tens of microns to millimeters. In addition to a yellow-light room where the DLW is done, the lab has a processing bench with a spinner where we mix a wide range of photosensitive materials, as well as microscopes for characterization and a UV lamp and oxide plasma for surface preparation. We also have a work station to support CAD design. Current research projects include designing and fabricating mechanical metamaterials, scaffolds for cell studies, antennas for Terahertz radiation, and fixtures to enable neurological studies of birds.


Multiscale Tissue Biomechanics Laboratory

Katherine Yanghang Zhang

In the Multiscale Tissue Biomechanics Lab, K. Zhang’s research group integrates knowledge of biology, nonlinear solid mechanics, and finite element modeling, especially of complex materials and constitutive behavior. Through the research, the lab provides insights in understanding the relationship between microscopic biological processes and changes in macroscopic tissue mechanics due to diseases, and helps the development of diagnostic, therapeutic, and pharmaceutical techniques. The Multiscale Tissue Biomechanics Laboratory was established in 2006 and includes a fully equipped wet lab and computational facilities for characterization and modeling of the mechanical behavior of soft biological tissues and composites at multi-scale. Current research thrusts in the Multiscale Tissue Biomechanics Lab include the development of structural constitutive models that directly integrate information on tissue composition and microstructure for simulation of cardiovascular diseases and methods of prevention, the structural and functional changes of elastin due to elastin – lipid interactions and glycation, and the cellular level mechanical properties and forces within the extracelullar matrix.

Nano Heat Transfer Laboratory

Aaron J. Schmidt

Research in the Nano Heat Transfer Laboratory is focused on understanding and controlling thermal energy in nanoscale systems such as nanoparticles, thin films, membranes, and multilayers. We specialize in ultrafast optical measurements of transport and laser—material interaction. Applications include development of new materials, solid-state energy conversion, thermal management, thermal wave imaging, and fundamental transport physics. The laboratory is equipped with two custom-built photothermal microscopes for thermal property imaging and transport measurements.


Nanomedicine and Medical Acoustics Laboratory

Tyrone Porter

The Nanomedicine and Medical Acoustics Laboratory is focused on the development of stimuli-responsive colloidal systems for diagnostic and therapeutic applications. For example, we design and manufacture targeted lipid-coated microbubbles for ultrasound-based molecular imaging of inflammation associated with cancer or coronary artery disease. These targeted microbubbles can also be loaded with drugs for image-guided and highly localized drug delivery. On the nanoscale, we design and produce perfluorocarbon nanoemulsions that can be phase-converted into microbubbles, which are then used to assist in drug transport across cell membranes (i.e. localized drug delivery) or enhance ultrasound-mediated ablation of solid tumors. Lastly, we design and produce drug-loaded lipid- and polymer-based nanoparticles that are sensitive to biological cues, such as changes in pH levels or enzymatic activity. When subjected to a specific cue, these nanoparticles can be designed to release their payload rapidly or gradually, thus delivering an effective dose to diseased cells and tissue specifically and enhancing the therapeutic efficacy of the drug.

Nanoscale Energy-Fluids Transport Laboratory

Chuanhua Duan

The Nanoscale Energy-Fluids Transport (NEFT) laboratory experimentally studies energy and fluids transport at the nanoscale. We are part of the Mechanical Engineering Department of Boston University. Professor Chuanhua Duan is the Principal Investigator of the NEFT lab. Our current investigations include:

* Exploring anomalous transport phenomenon in 1-D or 2-D confined nanochannels;

* Enhancing ion/molecule transport in batteries and fuel cells using nanostructured materials;

* Improving phase-change heat transfer based on patterned micro/nanostructures;

* Developing new nanofluidic devices for biomolecule sensing and separation.

Nanometer Scale Engineering Laboratory

Kamil Ekinci

The research in Nanoscale Mechanical Engineering Laboratory focuses on physical phenomena at the nanoscale as well as nanoscale devices and ultrasensitive measurement techniques for a variety of applications. The physical phenomena of interest ranges from fluctuations to fluid dynamics to photonics. The applications pursued so far involve bio-molecule sensing using nano-electromechanical systems (NEMS), designing motion transducers for nanoscale applications and ultrafast scanning probe microscopy.


Nanostructured Fibers and Nonlinear Optics Laboratory

Siddharth Ramachandran

Light beams in free space travel at the “speed of light,” and tend to diverge (diffract). Complex, nano-structured photonic devices can be used to slow light (confine photons in time) and counteract diffraction (by confining photons in space). Some confinement geometries lead to spatially complex beams that possess intriguing properties such as the ability of optical vortices to carry orbital angular momentum or the ability of Bessel beams to self-heal. Our group studies the myriad phenomena encountered by the manipulation of such fundamental effects of light, with the aim of developing next generation photonic devices.


Nanostructured Fibers and Nonlinear Optics Laboratory

Siddharth Ramachandran

Light beams in free space travel at the “speed of light,” and tend to diverge (diffract). Complex, nano-structured photonic devices can be used to slow light (confine photons in time) and counteract diffraction (by confining photons in space). Some confinement geometries lead to spatially complex beams that possess intriguing properties such as the ability of optical vortices to carry orbital angular momentum or the ability of Bessel beams to self-heal. Our group studies the myriad phenomena encountered by the manipulation of such fundamental effects of light, with the aim of developing next generation photonic devices.


Nia Laboratory

Hadi Nia

Our lab conducts research at the interface of physical sciences and molecular biology with a focus on links between mechanical forces and cell biology in health and disease. We probe tissue microenvironment in multiscale (e.g., molecular, cellular, and tissue levels), and multi-settings (e.g., in silico, in vitro, and in vivo).


Optical Characterization & Nanophotonics Laboratory (OCN)

Anna Swan and Selim Ünlü

Nanophotonics addresses a broad spectrum of optics on the nanometer scale covering technology development and basic science discovery. Compared to the behavior of isolated molecules or bulk materials, the behavior of nanostructures exhibit important physical properties not necessarily predictable from observations of either individual constituents or large ensembles. We develop and apply advanced optical characterization techniques to the study of solid-state and biological phenomena at the nanoscale. Current projects include development of high resolution subsurface imaging techniques based on numerical aperture increasing lens (NAIL) for the study of semiconductor devices and circuits and spectroscopy of quantum dots, micro resonant Raman and emission spectroscopy of individual carbon nanotubes, biosensors based on microring resonators, and development of new nanoscale microscopy techniques utilizing interference of excitation as well as emission from fluorescent molecules. We use high-resolution Raman spectroscopy to explore single atomic layers of Graphene as well as atomic layers of chalcogenides. In addition to microscopy, optical resonance is nearly ubiquitous in our research projects including development of resonant cavity-enhanced photodetectors and imaging biosensors for DNA, single virus sensing, and protein arrays.

Orthopaedic & Developmental Biomechanics Laboratory

Elise Morgan

This laboratory uses experimental and computational methods to explore the relationships between structure and mechanical function of biological tissues at multiple length scales. Current research projects include biomechanics of spine fractures, the effects of mechanical stimulation on bone healing, biomechanics of fracture healing, and microscale mechanical characterization of bone tissue. The laboratory houses a biaxial (axialtorsional) servohydraulic materials testing system with a variety of extensometers and load cells, a miniature torsional testing system, two micro-computed tomography systems, a multichannel signal conditional and amplification system, an X-ray cabinet, and various cutting tools including a sledge microtome and low-speed wafering saw. Additional space is dedicated to cell and tissue culture. Computational facilities include PC workstations equipped with software for image processing, finite element analysis, and general computing.

Powder Metallurgy & X-ray Laboratory

Vinod K. Sarin

The powder-processing laboratory is equipped to batch, process, and densify a wide variety of materials. Particle size reduction and uniform mixing are essential in any powder preparation. In addition to a 500cc capacity attritor mill for processing small powder batches, an extensive selection of ball mill sizes and a variety of milling media, including silicon nitride and titanium carbide, are available. Consolidation and sintering capabilities include vacuum, over pressure, and hot pressing up to 25,000 KgF and temperatures in excess of 2400°C. These capabilities make the powder-processing laboratory uniquely equipped for developing high temperature monolithic and composite materials. The laboratory is also equipped with a Bruker D8 Focus diffractometer with independent theta and two-theta axis with copper radiation. This unit extends the laboratory’s capability to perform single crystal back reflection Laue studies for crystal orientation. The standard detector is the scintillation counter, with high dynamic range and low internal background. In addition, several Debye Scherrer powder cameras are also available. This unit is equipped with all necessary components for qualitative or quantitative phase analysis, crystallite size determination, and structure determination and refinement.

Precision Engineering Research (PERL) Laboratory

Thomas Bifano

Research in the Precision Engineering Research (PERL) Laboratory is directed toward design, modeling, fabrication, and testing of advanced microsystems. A core research area involves development of large-scale arrays of coordinated microactuators for use in photonic or optical systems. Recent projects have included: development of deformable micromirror arrays for adaptive optics; modeling of microfluidic transport systems; development of microvalve arrays for control of fluid flow rate and pressure; design and fabrication of advanced optoacoustic MEMS sensors; and micro-scale contouring using ion beam systems. The laboratory houses state-of-the-art systems for design, fabrication, and testing of MEMS devices, including interferometric contouring microscopes, a high speed vibrometer, and adaptive optics and microfluidic test beds.

Restorative Sciences and Biomaterials Laboratory

Dan Nathanson, Russell Giordano and Richard Pober

Research in this laboratory focuses on ceramics and ceramic matrix composites. Projects include the testing of current ceramic restorative systems as well as the development of ceramic matrix composites with improved resistance to fracture and higher toughness. Evaluation of new dental materials systems is also an ongoing part of his research activity. Evaluation of the effects of surface finish on strength of ceramics has involved the application of novel machining systems such as the CEREC CAD-CAM system and the Celay copy milling system as well as the effects of polishing, fine grinding, glazing and etching.

Semiconductor Photonics Research Laboratory

Roberto Paiella

Research in this lab is aimed at the development of novel optoelectronic devices based on artificially structured materials systems, whose properties can be tailored by design to meet specific applications in a way that is not afforded by simply using bulk materials. One important example is that of semiconductor quantum structures, in which nanoscale layers (or wires or dots) of different semiconductor materials are assembled to create an energy landscape in which electrons behave in a markedly quantum-mechanical fashion. By controlling the dimensions and geometry of these structures, one can tune their most basic electronic and optical properties to enable entirely new device concepts – an approach that has become known as bandgap engineering. Artificial structures involving materials with different optical properties (e.g., metals and dielectrics) can also be designed in a similar manner, and used to control the flow of light and its interaction with the underlying matter in novel and often useful ways. Ongoing research is focused on THz optoelectronic devices, silicon-compatible light sources, and plasmon-enhanced visible LEDs. Our work in these areas involves both theoretical and experimental activities, including design and simulations, device fabrication, and electrical and optical characterization.

The Sharifzadeh Group

Sahar Sharifzadeh

The Sharifzadeh research group focuses on understanding and predicting functional material properties using first-principles electronic structure methods. We develop and apply these methods, which can predict, with quantitative accuracy, the electronic, magnetic, and structural properties of materials from the basic laws of quantum mechanics. The goals of this research are to extract physical intuition about, and ultimately to design, new outstanding materials.

Single Molecule Spectroscopy – Kamenetska Research Group

Masha Kamenetska

Our interest is in untangling structure-property relationships on the nanoscale using single molecule spectroscopies. We are an interdisciplinary group of scientists and engineers working in a brand new, state of the art lab space at the BU Photonics Center.

Solid State Ionics Lab

Srikanth Gopalan

Research in this laboratory focuses on environmentally benign power generation technologies such as solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs). We explore the materials science and electrochemistry of SOFCs using impedance spectroscopy, galvanostats and potentiostats. Studies in this lab include measurement of the rates of charge transfer reactions that occur at the interfaces of solid state electrochemical devices, exploration of new processes, and modeling of the transport phenomena that occur in such devices. In this lab we also conduct research on ceramic gas separation membranes for the separation of industrially important gases such as oxygen and hydrogen. Ongoing projects conducted in close collaboration with industrial partners include the development of electrode and electrolyte materials for lower operating temperature SOFCs and the development of mixed ionic and electronic conducting materials for separation of hydrogen. The laboratory is equipped with a Perkin Elmer 263 A Potentiostat / Galvanostat used for characterization of electrochemical systems such as fuel cells, ceramic gas separation membranes, batteries and sensors, a Horiba 910 particle size analyzer capable of obtaining particle size distributions of powders in the range of 0.01 microns to 1 mm using light scattering technique, a Solartron 1255 Frequency Response Analyzer (FRA) used for AC impedance spectroscopy, a high temperature furnace that can operate up to 1700°C, and a Spex 8000 mill capable of producing sub-micron particles for use in solid state electrodes by high energy ball milling in a very short period of time.

Solid State Research Laboratory

David Bishop

In this laboratory we are developing the techniques and MEMS devices to do “atomic calligraphy” where we can direct write structures and devices with small numbers of atoms. By moving silicon plates as we evaporate a wide variety of materials we can do 3D printing on an atomic scale.

Surface Modification Laboratory

Vinod K. Sarin

This unique state-of-the-art university research laboratory has the capability of R&D activities in the field of surface engineering involving both Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) and Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) techniques. It contains two experimental CVD units capable of producing a wide range of tough, adherent and protective coatings for various applications. Two multiple-target DC and RF sputtering units that produce monolithic, multi-layered, and composite coatings are available for coating development by PVD. Research and development of diamond coatings is focused on the combustion flame process. Several combustion flame setups have been developed and fabricated to produce diamond coatings of various morphologies on a wide range of materials. Unique equipment and techniques have been developed to evaluate the mechanical, chemical, and structural properties of coatings, such as a micro-scratch tester to evaluate adherence. A hot wall CVD reactor is used for the deposition of functionally graded mullite coatings. Mullite (3Al2O3•2SiO2) has received considerable attention as a potential coating material for silicon-based ceramics due to its excellent corrosion resistance, creep resistance, high temperature strength, and most critically, excellent Coefficient of Thermal Expansion match, especially with Silicon Carbide. Dense, uniform, crystalline mullite environmental barrier coatings have been deposited by CVD on SiC substrates and these coatings have exhibited excellent high temperature oxidation and hot corrosion resistance. The coating process has subsequently been patented at Boston University. Transparent Radioluminescent Coatings of Lutetium Oxide doped with Europium Oxide are being developed using both PVD and CVD. It is believed that these atomistic deposition techniques will offer extensive promise as an alternative production method for tailoring microstructure and optimizing scintillation characteristics of these ceramics.

The Straub Group

John E. Straub

The Straub Group investigates fundamental aspects of protein dynamics and thermodynamics underlying the formation of protein structure, through folding and aggregation, and enabling protein function, through pathways of energy flow and signaling.  Student and postdoctoral research scientists in the Straub Group work to develop and employ state-of-the-art computational methods while working in collaboration with leading experimental research groups.

The Tien Group

Joe Tien

Research applying techniques adopted from microlithography, self-assembly, microfluidics, and developmental biology to develop methods of assembling cells into ordered three-dimensional aggregates and use these aggregates as artificial tissue and as in vitro models of disease. Current work focuses on the fabrication of branched networks such as vasculature and pulmonary trees, and spatially complex organoids such as liver acini. The Tien Group is developing new techniques to vascularize biomaterials. Current areas of interest are: the synthesis of microfluidic biomaterials (materials that contain open channels for perfusion), the quantitative physiology of engineered microvessels, and the computational design of vascular systems.

Tsui Laboratory

Ophelia K.C. Tsui

Our current research primarily concerns the effects of surfaces, interfaces, confinement and frustration on the dynamics and equilibrium of soft condensed matters, illustrated in polymer ultrathin films and liquid crystal systems. These queries have led us to investigate a wide spectrum of contemporary soft condensed matter physics problems including wetting and dewetting phenomena, adhesion, interfacial viscosity, dynamics of confined systems, surface dynamics, surface or frustration induced orientational ordering. Through collaborations with colleagues around the world, we have also worked on related problems of atomic force microscopic (AFM) mechanics, AFM nanotribology, AFM nanolithography, order-disorder phase transition of evaporating solution cast block copolymer films, formation and structure of protein films, liquid crystal display, and electronic and magnetic properties of magnetic granular nano-composites. The major experimental techniques used in our research include AFM, x-ray reflectivity and scattering, contact angle measurement, ellipsometry as well as optical microscopy. Most of the sample preparation involves cleanroom and microfabrication technologies.

Ultrafast Nanostructure Optics (UNO) Laboratory

Luca Dal Negro

The research is mainly focused on: a) nano-optics and plasmonics; b) optics of complex structures; c) ultra-fast emission spectroscopy and optical gain phenomena; d) nonlinear optics of semiconductor and metal nanostructures. Implemented optical techniques include: picosecond fluorescence lifetime spectroscopy, femtosecond pump-probe spectroscopy, dark-field scattering spectroscopy, time-resolved variable stripe length gain techniques, emission quantum efficiency, photoconductivity measurements, Z-scan and SHG nonlinear characterization.

Ultrafast Optics Laboratory

Michelle Sander

Our group focuses on exploring optical material interactions to develop novel laser sources in the infrared and mid-infrared wavelength regime. We explore femtosecond pulse generation techniques (1 femtosecond = 10-15 seconds) to advance photonic technologies that manipulate and transmit light efficiently. Compact fiber lasers and integrated microphotonic systems are pursued for applications in communications, biomedical diagnostics and treatment, frequency metrology, environmental sensing and spectroscopy.

Vibrations Laboratory

J. Gregory McDaniel

The Vibrations Laboratory offers a full suite of sensors, instrumentation, and software necessary to research the vibrations of complex structures and technologies that reduce vibration and noise. One area of current interest is the spatial mapping of energy removal by damping treatments in order to better design damping treatments for complex structures. Another area is the mitigation of automotive brake squeal.

The Vegas Lab

Arturo J. Vegas

The Vegas group pursues general and systematic approaches to developing targeted therapeutic carriers for the treatment of multiple human diseases. Small-molecule drugs excel at altering disease states at the cellular level, but their therapeutic benefits are often hindered by physiological barriers that impact their toxicity, efficacy, and distribution. The ability to overcome these barriers can make major differences in both the safety and effectiveness of a therapeutic. Engineering-based approaches have successfully shown that formulation can overcome barriers associated with toxicity and bioavailability, and are increasingly focused on tissue distribution and selective targeting of diseased tissues.

The Wong Lab

Joyce Wong

The Biomimetic Materials Engineering Laboratory is focused on the development of biomaterials to probe how structure, material properties and composition of the cell-biomaterial interface affect fundamental cellular processes. Specifically, we are interested in developing substrata with features that mimic physiological and pathophysiological environments to study fundamental cellular processes at the biointerface. Current research projects include pediatric vascular tissue engineering of vascular patches; development of targeted nano- and microparticle contrast agents for theranostic applications in cardiovascular disease and cancer; and engineering biomimetic systems to study restenosis and cancer metastasis.

Yang Research Laboratory

Chen Yang

The vision of our research is developing new nanomaterials with functionality gained from low dimensionality, structural and compositional complexity, and novel optical and electrical properties and for great societal impact. We adopt a “Design and Develop” strategy where we design the new nanostructures based on unique understanding gained through experiments and theories for the targeted application. The research programs are currently focused on three major areas: (1) Interfacing Nanomaterials with Biology; (2) Understanding and designing new nanomaterials with unique optical properties for photonics and solar energy applications; (3) Nanowire architecture for electronics and photonics applications. Our research programs address scientific issues within these areas using combined ideas and techniques from physical, chemical, biological, and engineering sciences. Reflecting the interdisciplinary feature of her research, Dr. Yang holds a faculty position in Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Department of Chemistry. We are actively recruiting talented students and postdocs that are motivated to work on nanoscience and nanotechnology. Contact us for details on openings.