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.
In 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
moieties, as well as work employing titania
with various pre-synthesized nanoscale architectures as the electron acceptor.
In 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.
Applying 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.
In 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.
Finally, 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.
Iris's JMCC paper is out!
Tom has a new baby boy and Chrissy has a new baby girl! Congratulations!
Iris' CdSe paper just got published in Advanced Materials!
Brian advanced to candadicy! Congratulations Candidate Brian!
Dr. Iris Rauda received her PhD this week! Congrats Dr. Iris!
Congrats to Iris on her new paper!
Iris Rauda, Chris Kang, and Lisa Dudek
Congrats to our students who are walking
Courtney and Eric are married! Best wishes from the group.
Welcome to grad school Bug!
Movin' on and up:
Good luck to Tom at Intel, Richie at Global Foundries,
and Tassone at the SSRL synchrotron!
Congrats to Benny on his new paper!
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