Current SEMA Research

These major research projects focus on:

  1. Multifunctional bionanocomposites
  2. Biophotonic Materials
  3. Sensing and Biosensing Materials
  4. Ultra-strong Flexible Nanomaterials
  5. Ultra-stretchable Structures

Collectively, this fundamental research lays the foundation for ambient-friendly wet processing, lightweight strong protection, wearable bioelectronics, ultra thin functional skin, and flexible biosensors.

Multifunctional Bionanocomposites

Journal cover for Materials Science and Engineering Reports with research conducted by SEMA members.
Development process for multifunctional bionanocomposites in the SEMA lab.
Biopolymers incorporated into nano composites due to their unique properties in SEMA lab.

Biophotonic Materials

Examples found in nature, such as peacock feathers, fish scales, pollia fruit, and beetle exoskeletons provide inspiration for biophotonic nano composites in the SEMA lab. 

Examples of unique, brightly colored materials in nature that are derived from their structure, rather than pigments or dyes.
Structural color is derived from incoming wavelength reflection, providing unique biophotonics in nature.
Chiral biopolymer solids were made in the SEMA lab from nematic, liquid crystal phases.

Sensing and Biosensing Materials

Using the complex, multi-level hierarchical structures of biophotonic nano materials, we in the SEMA lab have created sensing materials for different reactions. 

CNC-cQD LC phase for chiral photoluminescent materials .
Integration of optical surface structures for enhanced chiroptical properties.
Tunable structural color via surface patterning of chiral phases and inkjet printing of luminescent QD-CNC patterns.

Ultra-strong Flexible Nanomaterials

In addition to creating biosensors with biophotonic structures, the SEMA lab uses strong materials found in nature, like cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) and cellulose nanofibers (CNF), to create both optically and mechanically advanced materials. Our characterization techniques heavily rely on atomic force microscopy (AFM), from which we can characterize the topography, mechanics, conductivity, and temperature performance. 

CNC-CNF stacked composites: combining iridescence and high mechanical performance.
CNC-CNF stacked composites: separated phases and interfaces.
Mixed CNC-polysaccharide composites: separated phases and interfaces.
Mixed CNC-polysaccharide composites: seamless intercalation.

Ultra-stretchable Structures

SEMA research focuses on the fundamentals, especially upon improving interfacial interactions for typically weak interfaces to create stronger and more elastic materials or by manipulating the material’s structure to achieve unprecedented performance. 

Directed, stretchable graphene-oxide conductive films.
Pop-Up/Stretchable conducting large-area silk-GO kirigami biopaper.

For more information about this branch of SEMA research, please read our published manuscripts. Below are some specific publications that encompass a majority of our research:

  1. R. Xiong, Mat. Sci. & Eng. Reports, 2018, 125, 1-41.
  2. R. Xiong, J. Luan, S. Kang, C. Ye, S. Singamaneni, V. V. Tsukruk, Chem. Soc. Review, 2020, 49, 983
  3. R. Xiong, ACS Nano, 2019, 13, 9074, Ang. Chem., 2020
  4. R. Xiong, et. al., Adv. Mater., 2020
  5. X. Zhang, R. Xiong, S. Kang, Y. Yang, V. V. Tsukruk,  ACS Nano, 2020, in print
  6. K. Adstedt, E. A. Popenov, K. J. Pierce, R. Xiong, R. Geryak, V. Cherpak, D. Nepal, T. J. Bunning, V. Tsukruk,  Adv. Funct. Mater., 2020, 202003597.
  7. R. Ma, ACS Nano, 2018, 12, 9714
  8. K. Hu, Adv. Mater., 2016; A. Grant, Adv. Funct. Mater., 2016
  9. R. Ma, Adv. Funct. Mater., 2017, 27, 1604802