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Jan Genzer



Engineering Building I (EB1) 2088H


Genzer is the S. Frank and Susan Culberson Distinguished Professor and Associate Department Head in the Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering department at NC State University. His group is actively involved in research related to the behavior of polymers at interfaces and in confined geometries, with particular emphasis on assembly, thin films, responsive and shape-memory materials, and materials combinatorial methods.

We study the behavior of polymers at surfaces, interfaces, and in confined geometries. We design surfaces that resist non-specific biofouling. We also create surfaces that can capture synthetic pollutants, i.e., plastics.


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Date: 10/01/21 - 9/30/26
Amount: $15,147,874.00
Funding Agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF)

The Science and Technologies for Phosphorus Sustainability (STEPS) Center is a convergence research hub for addressing the fundamental challenges associated with phosphorus sustainability. The vision of STEPS is to develop new scientific and technological solutions to regulating, recovering and reusing phosphorus that can readily be adopted by society through fundamental research conducted by a broad, highly interdisciplinary team. Key outcomes include new atomic-level knowledge of phosphorus interactions with engineered and natural materials, new understanding of phosphorus mobility at industrial, farm, and landscape scales, and prioritization of best management practices and strategies drawn from diverse stakeholder perspectives. Ultimately, STEPS will provide new scientific understanding, enabling new technologies, and transformative improvements in phosphorus sustainability.

Date: 09/01/21 - 8/31/24
Amount: $152,000.00
Funding Agencies: National Institutes of Health (NIH)

The goal of this project is to develop chemically defined synthetic matrices to conduct in vitro studies on trophoblast differentiation in 3D cultures.

Date: 07/15/21 - 6/30/24
Amount: $510,838.00
Funding Agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF)

We will harness the precision in controlling the combination, concentration, and presentation of adhesion/growth factors of Bio-MAPs to (1) transform - from qualitative to quantitative - our understanding of the correlations between complex biomolecular topology and the mechanisms of cell proliferation, differentiation, adhesion, and migration. This will provide us with a unique tool to (2) create and test new ????????????????biomaterial recipes??????????????? for ECM-inspired cell conditioning substrates to be utilized in manufacturing phenotypically defined cells that are ????????????????tissue engineering-ready??????????????? for direct application in regenerative medicine.

Date: 01/01/23 - 12/31/23
Amount: $137,250.00
Funding Agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF)

Our FMRG team seeks to achieve its vision of scalable and reproducible synthesis of programmable polymer nanomaterials through the iterative improvement of synthesis, characterization, and AI/simulation-based optimization synthesis conditions. The team will validate and/or identify the need for methodological improvement using cycles and feedback loops. These cycles are organized into three Generations. Every eeneration is characterized by improvements in each element of the cycles (i.e., simulation, high-throughput synthesis and screening, and AI), increasing the control over properties of the programmed particles.

Date: 09/01/18 - 12/31/22
Amount: $536,630.00
Funding Agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF)

We form surface-anchored polymer networks by cross-linking polymers through cross-linking reactions involving sulfonyl azide- and benzophenone-based molecule moieties. We demonstrate the power of the current approach by creating functional surfaces with tailored response. Such formed coatings will find use in many applications including antifouling or low-friction surfaces and in generating substrates with "living" and tailorable topographies.

Date: 09/01/18 - 8/31/22
Amount: $360,000.00
Funding Agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF)

In this project, we propose to design and develop a multi-phase microfluidic strategy to address challenges of the on-chip chemical cross-linking approach for high-throughput production of silicone elastomer microparticles with tunable size, elasticity, and loading capacity. Utilizing the developed microfluidic platform, we will synthesize monodispersed microscale scaffolds (i.e., PHMS microparticles) for continuous flow heterogenous catalysis. Elastomeric microparticles loaded with a metal catalyst (Pd) will then be loaded into a tubular Teflon reactor to construct a microparticle-packed bed reactor (Figure 1). The ?????????-PBR offers an increase in catalytic surface area and improved mass transport within the continuous flow reactor for bi-phasic C-C cross-coupling reactions while maintaining the Pd-loaded elastomer??????????????????s catalytic activity and the benefits of flow processes over batch methods.

Date: 08/16/17 - 8/15/19
Amount: $135,908.00
Funding Agencies: National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA)

The objective of this project is to develop seed material, akin to polystyrene microspheres although not limited to that polymeric material, that will accurately track airflow in wind tunnel environments without contaminating surfaces, i.e., wind cleaning screens, tunnel walls, models, etc. Developed technologies will be targeted for demonstration under a variety of wind tunnel environments including temperatures ranging from ambient to cryogenic and atmospheres including standard composition, nitrogen, and refrigerants such as R134A.

Date: 09/01/14 - 8/31/18
Amount: $504,000.00
Funding Agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF)

The principal goal of this project is to gain detailed understanding of the stability of strong and weak polyelectrolyte brushes as a function of charge density, molecular weight (MW) and grafting density (sigma) on solid surfaces. We also plan to utilize ????????????????on-demand??????????????? chemical degrafting methods to characterize the properties of polymeric grafts (i.e., MW, sigma and chemical structure for brushes prepared by post-polymerization modification) synthesized by ????????????????grafting from??????????????? polymerization. We will develop new patterning methods that will enable the formation of 2D complex chemical patterns with adjustable compositional variation across pattern boundaries.

Date: 09/15/11 - 8/31/18
Amount: $4,030,458.00
Funding Agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF)

The ?????CEMRI will be a national resource for materials science and engineering research and education in the Durham-Raleigh-Chapel Hill (Triangle) area of North Carolina, a thriving technological and economic hub with a high concentration of materials innovation activity in both academia and industry. ?????CEMRI will focus on the study and development of morphodynamic soft materials ?materials that are able to change their shape, organization and physico-chemical properties to enable unique, dynamic functions, and will leverage existing and complementary strengths at the three premier research universities in the area, Duke, NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill. ?????CEMRI is expected to have a major national and international impact through generation of (i) new fundamental insights and theoretical understanding, (ii) new design principles, and (iii) new applications and uses for dynamic materials. In response to new CEMRI guidelines, the team deliberately designed its research and educational activities to emphasize both advances in fundamental materials science and enhanced materials innovation and translation. Intellectual Merit. Understanding, harnessing and exploitation of dynamic processes related to the aggregation of multicomponent particulate materials, and the conformational changes of macromolecular assemblies and networks represent significant current frontiers in materials research. ?????CEMRI has assembled three teams of leading researchers in materials theory, synthesis, processing and applications to establish the ?????CEMRI. IRG1: Multicomponent Colloidal Assembly by Comprehensive Interaction Design. The goal of IRG1 is to develop a fundamental understanding of self-assembly of bulk materials from multi-component colloidal suspensions. Bidisperse colloidal suspensions are ideal experimental models of complex materials, such as ionic crystals and binary alloys. These structures have potential for application in photonic, electronic, and biomedical devices and are more highly tunable than single component colloidal systems. The rich phase behavior expected in multi-component systems of multi-faced particles, multipolar particles, and particles with different geometric structures (rods, nonspherical shapes) will allow for advancement both of fundamental materials science and the development of novel applications. IRG2: Genetically Encoded Morphodynamic Polymers. In Nature, peptide polymers represent the largest class of dynamic macromolecules that perform innumerable functions. IRG2 will focus on understanding and harnessing the behavior of genetically-engineered, biologically-inspired peptide-based macromolecules that exhibit critical and reversible inter- and intra-molecular noncovalent interactions. Genetic encoding allows precise control of chemical functionality, sequence, stereochemistry, molecular weight, and thus, environmental sensitivity and supramolecular assembly. IRG2 will develop a broad range of new stimuli-responsive molecules, ?Genetically Encoded Morphodynamic Polymers? (GEMPs), develop understanding of how block copolymers that incorporate these molecules in random and programmed ways behave, and use block copolymers in forming new hierarchical and hybrid functional materials. IRG2 will focus explicitly on studying fundamental phenomena and systems that have been heretofore difficult to access through conventional polymer synthesis. IRG3: Advanced Silicone-based Bulk and Interfacial Constructs. Silicone elastomer networks (SENs) are used in myriad settings today (from bathroom fixtures to nanofabrication facilities) and have thus been extensively studied. The palette of network and surface chemistries commonly available in such versatile materials remains, however, very limited. This IRG will develop and implement new functional SENs (FSENs) that allow versatile and independent control of bulk network properties and surface properties. Such control is vital for application of SENs in a number of emerging applications, including those where it is necessary to utilize the solubility and transport properties

Date: 08/01/12 - 4/30/18
Amount: $1,846,358.00
Funding Agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF)

Intellectual Merit: The goal of the proposed project is to study a new class of origami by means of polymer sheets that fold in response to external triggers, such as light, for hands free folding. Folding occurs in response to the localization of energy to hinges that are defined on the polymer sheet by inkjet printing. The appeal of this approach is its simplicity, versatility, and ability to harnesses the multitude of 2D patterning techniques (e.g., inkjet, screen printing, lithography) to convert surface patterns on pre-strained polymer sheets into 3D objects within seconds upon exposure to a stimulus. We seek to study experimentally and model computationally the folding process to create new multi-functional 3D structures that can form rapidly with precise control over shape. The proposed work builds on promising initial results that will transform the field of origami by allowing simple modes of folding / unfolding that have applications in manufacturing, actuation, and industrial design. The team, which seeks to develop novel materials and approaches for origami folded structures, includes two artists/ designers who specialize in surface design and sculpting, a mechanical engineer with expertise in multi-scale mechanics of materials, a mathematician with 35 years of origami experience, and materials / chemical engineers. The artists will use these folding sheets as a new dynamic artistic medium to inspire new designs within the technical boundary conditions enabled by the materials engineers. The mathematician will use the folding medium as a visual means to study the theory of origami guided by the mechanical limits elucidated by the mechanical engineers. We will study and model the scaling laws of folding (i.e., scaling the dimension of the generated structures and establishing general rules towards folding at multiple length scales), the rate of folding, and the mechanics of folding to develop compliant folding mechanisms. Our interdisciplinary team will collaborate to advance our scientific objectives while broadening participation of underrepresented groups and developing outreach modules on origami for K-12 students. The proposed work is relevant to Themes 1 & 2, and to a lesser extent, Theme 4. Broader Impacts: Generation of novel structures based on folding/unfolding of 2D sheets is expected to lead to a novel paradigm towards developing materials with unprecedented function/property. Our approach has significant commercial relevance because it is compatible with both low-tech, high throughput 2D patterning techniques (e.g., roll-to-roll patterning) as well as high-tech, 2D patterning of electronics and photonics. Packaging or manufacturing of unfoldable materials employed in various technological applications (including those relevant to the Air Force, such as, unfoldable air foils for precision airdrop of humanitarian supplies) constitute examples of structures that will benefit from the proposed research effort. In addition to the scientific aspect of the proposed activities, we outline our efforts in training students, describe existing and proposed outreach activities, and propose means of attracting local K-12 teachers and students to take part in our interdisciplinary research endeavors through various educational and outreach programs at NC State University, Elon, and Meredith College, which is a neighboring women?s college. The outreach programs will be developed and distributed synergistically by our team featuring artists, a former high school teacher, a mathematician who teaches origami, and engineers / scientists.

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