Welcome to the Tolbert Group!

Research in our group focuses on the intertwined goals of producing new nanostructured materials by solution-phase self-assembly, and using nanoscale architectures to control device physics. Within this framework, current research in the Tolbert group can be divided into five main areas: Our projects combine an intimate mix of materials synthesis, device physics, and fundamental physical chemistry. As such, these projects are truly interdisciplinary efforts.

Fullerene StackIn the area of energy harvesting, we focus on using semiconducting polymers as the primary light absorbers in organic photovoltaics. Current work includes studies of nanoscale architectures in organic solar cells produced by spontaneous phase separation of different polymer and fullerene moieties, as well as work employing titania with various pre-synthesized nanoscale architectures as the electron acceptor.
TiO2 nanocrystal frameworkIn regards to energy storage, we use block copolymer templating to produce nanoporous materials suitable for both batteries and supercapacitors. We are interested in supercapacitor materials that show high levels of pseduocapacitance - that is, surface bound redox sites that cycle at a high rate. We also use templated porous materials for high energy density batteries, exploiting Si/Li alloys. In both cases, we find that the flexibility of our nanoporous materials is key to accommodating the volume strain associated with fast electrochemical cycling.
Multiferroic bismuth ferriteApplying this templated approach to multiferroic materials allows us to control the coupling between the framework and magnetic nanocrystals contained within the pores. Also, in the direct production of magnetic and piezoelectric framework materials, the spatially determined magnetic coupling is combined with the mechanical flexibility of porous structures to afford control over magnetic alignment, allowing us to dramatically lower the voltages required to polarize ferroelectric materials.
Osmium Ruthenium DiborideIn addition to producing new nanostructured materials, the Tolbert group is also actively involved in a collaborative effort to design new ultra-hard materials based on metal borides that can be synthesized at ambient pressure. Current work in thisarea is focused on refining our understanding of the bonding requirements needed to optimize hardness as well as studies of new materials and hardness related properties, such as friction.
Protein organizationFinally, the Tolbert group uses its expertise in the nanoscale organization of semiconducting polymers to produce polymer-protein conjugates that combine biological compatibility with tunable luminescence. Work in this area focuses on both virus-based constructs, and on the assembly and exploration of vaults. The latter are ubiquitous eukaryotic protein cages that we study both in their native form, and in forms engineered for selective binding.

February, 2013

   Iris's JMCC paper is out!

February, 2013

   Tom has a new baby boy and Chrissy has a new baby girl! Congratulations!

January, 2013

   Iris' CdSe paper just got published in Advanced Materials!

December, 2012

   Brian advanced to candadicy! Congratulations Candidate Brian!

September, 2012

   Dr. Iris Rauda received her PhD this week! Congrats Dr. Iris!

July, 2012

   Congrats to Iris on her new paper!

July, 2012

   Congrats to our students who are walking

        Iris Rauda, Chris Kang, and Lisa Dudek

September, 2011

   Courtney and Eric are married! Best wishes from the group.

August, 2011

   Welcome to grad school Bug!

June, 2011

   Movin' on and up:

        Good luck to Tom at Intel, Richie at Global Foundries,

        and Tassone at the SSRL synchrotron!

December, 2010

   Congrats to Benny on his new paper!

September, 2010

   And Robert has a new baby boy!

August 11, 2010

   Torsten has a new baby girl!

August 3, 2010

   Yay for Tom's new paper!

June 15, 2010

   Joe's moved on to a shiny new job at Aerospace

June 1, 2010

   Congratulations to our graduate students who are walking!

        Benny Ng, Chris Tassone, and Tom Quickel