Skip to main content

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.


View all publications 


Date: 10/01/21 - 9/30/26
Amount: $9,999,146.00
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: 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: 09/01/21 - 8/31/23
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: 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 µ-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 ÄCEMRI 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. ÄCEMRI 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. ÄCEMRI 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. ÄCEMRI has assembled three teams of leading researchers in materials theory, synthesis, processing and applications to establish the ÄCEMRI. 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)

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. The folding occurs due to the local release of stored elastic energy in the hinges. The hinged regions of the polymer sheet are defined by functional patterned inks. The appeal of this simple approach is that it harnesses the multitude of 2-D patterning techniques (e.g., inkjet, screen printing, lithography) to convert surface patterns on pre-strained polymer sheets into 3-D objects. We seek to study experimentally and model computationally the folding process to create new multi-functional 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, implantable devices, and actuation. The team includes an artist and designer who specialize in surface design; these team members will play an important role in guiding the design of new origami that operates within the technical boundary conditions defined by the engineers. We seek to study and model the scaling laws of folding, the rate of folding, and the mechanics of folding to develop compliant folding mechanisms. Our interdisciplinary team will work closely together to advance our scientific objectives while broadening participation of underrepresented groups and developing outreach modules on origami. The proposed work is relevant to Themes 1 & 2, and to a lesser extent, Theme 4.

View all grants