The Chen Research Group

Nanostructured Multimetals and Hybrid Materials

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Project I involves the development of novel methods for controlling the arrangement of atoms in bimetallic nanostructures in an effort to establish the structure-property relationship and develop cost-effective catalysts for chemical reactions associated with fuel cell applications. We emphasize on method development to synthesize nanocrystals containing the earth abundant elements such as copper and their alloys with well-defined size, shape, and composition, aiming to systematically study the effects of morphology, crystal structure, surface ligand on the catalytic activity including reactivity, selectivity and stability as electrocatalysts.



Project II involves the development of novel methods for modifying the surface of nanoparticles with bio-inspired polymers such as polydopamine (PDA, a versatile material mimicking the adhesion function of mussels) and its derivitives for bio-related applications. Mussels in marine environments secrete proteins that allow them to attach to both organic and inorganic surfaces underwater in tidal conditions. It was discovered that dopamine, a small-molecule, can mimic the adhesive proteins found in the “footprints” of mussels. We modify the nanoparticle surface with polydopamine and its derivitives, aiming to engineer free-suspended, adhesive nanoparticles as fillers in thin film lubricating coating such as Teflon for engineering durable, low friction surface.



Project III involves the development of nanoplatforms for controlled release drug delivery to fight against antibiotics-resistant infectious diseases and cancer. The nanoplatforms consist of gold nanocages with surface functionalized with "smart" polymer which can response to internal or external stimuli for on-demand release of therapeutics. Such nanoplatforms are designed to introduce target capability and enable dual or multiple treatment modalities in addition to the conventional antibiotic or chemo-therapies which can significantly improve the treatment efficacy.