The main objective of the Smith research group is to demonstrate Raman spectroscopy analyses of biomass, enzymatic catalysis, and thin films. This objective is accomplished through a combination of analytical measurements, instrument and method development. Our work supports the use of biomass as a feedstock for renewable fuels and commodity chemicals through rapid, non-invasive characterization of biomass composition and conversion.
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The primary objective of the project is to understand the mechanism governing specific binding between biological molecules and monomolecular assemblies of nucleic acid based receptor molecules as a function of electric field-induced conformational changes and molecular order.
Nanostructured photocatalysts for green chemistry and sustainable catalysis
The scope of the highly interdisciplinary project includes synthesis and characterization of novel bioinspired hybrid materials that respond to the environment and self-assemble hierarchically. The approach involves use of organic templates coupled with mineralization proteins to direct biomineralization processes, to facilitate a bottom-up approach to nanocomposite materials design.
"There are two projects, both of them computational. The student will learn the basics of Molecular Dynamics simulations and then will be able to perform simulations of polymers interacting with nanoparticles that are functionalized with DNA or investigate how proteins interact with other proteins as well with phospholipids (project 2). If the student works efficiently, it may result in a publication in a refereed journal. Besides, he/she will be exposed to the materials and methods needed to understand the nano-world."
Emergent Atomic and Magnetic Structures, Division of Materials Sciences and Engineering
Thermochemical property measurements and calculation program development for alloy design.
Energetic calculation is one of the most important tools used in alloy design and optimization. The computations based on energetics for both equilibrium and non-equilibrium phase transformations will be used to develop new alloys and processing. Students will use thermodynamic theory to describe the properties of alloys.
The internship will be divided into two parts:
"Students will work on a project aimed to capture greenhouse gases with nanomaterials. Multifunctionalized porous nanoparticles will be prepared for the capture and temporary storage of CO2. The students will be trained for working on the synthesis and characterization of mesoporous materials. They will use a series of analytical methods including powder x-ray diffraction, BET sorption isotherms, electron microscopy and energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy.
"Novel methods for constructing materials for diabetes therapeutics"
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which insulin-producing cells are destroyed. This can be reversed by simply transplanting the patient with additional insulin-producing cells. The major hurdle in doing this is that the immune system will recognize the cells as foreign and will attack them. One way to prevent recognition is to encapsulate the donor cells with a polymer. Two problems arise when using traditional encapsulation methods:
Topics of research for undergrad interns have been numerous and diverse. Participating students must write abstracts detailing the purpose, methods, and results of their work.
Research projects for Fall 2014 include the following: