Recent News

First Transistors Made Entirely of Nanocrystal ‘Inks’

The transistor is the most fundamental building block of electronics, used to build circuits capable of amplifying electrical signals or switching them between the 0s and 1s at the heart of digital computation. Transistor fabrication is a highly complex process, however, requiring high-temperature, high-vacuum equipment. 

Now, University of Pennsylvania engineers Cherie Kagan, the Stephen J. Angello Professor in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and Ji-Hyuk Choi have shown a new approach for making these devices: sequentially depositing their components in the form of liquid nanocrystal “inks.”

Their new study, published in Science, opens the door for electrical components to be built into flexible or wearable applications, as the lower-temperature process is compatible with a wide array of materials and can be applied to larger areas.

press release

Behavior of Materials at the Atomic Scale

Dawn Bonnell, vice provost for research and a nanotechnologist, spoke to NBC Learn about how the behavior of materials change as they approach the atomic scale.


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D. Lee, K. Stebe and M. Haase Devise Easier Way to Make Bijels

Bijels are bicontinuous networks of interwoven oil and water channels made stable by a percolating film of interfacially jammed colloidal particles. Traditionally fabricated by a delicate batch process via thermally-induced spinodal decomposition, bijels hold tremendous potential as promising platforms for interfacial catalysis and as fascinating vehicles for fundamental studies. A challenge with the traditional bijel formation route is that it is suitable for only few pairs of liquids with carefully tuned nanoparticle wetting properties. Postdoctoral researcher Martin Haase, working jointly with Profs. Daeyeon Lee and Kathleen Stebe, has devised a new approach, based on solvent transfer-induced phase separation (STRIPS). In STRIPS, bijels are formed continuously, from a diverse set of materials, with new degrees of control over the resulting structure. STRIPS exploits ternary liquid systems, comprising oil, water and a solvent, of which there are hundreds of candidate mixtures. If the solvent is removed in the right way, the oil and water phase separate spinodally, and nanoparticles adsorb and stabilize the structures. The nanoparticle wetting can be tuned in situ using surfactants, broadly diversifying the particles used. Solvent gradients can be tuned, for example, in a microfluidics device or via removal from a supported film, allowing bijel structures to be formed continuously, resulting in hierarchically structured particles, fibers or membranes. With this advance, we have taken a giant step toward realizing the promises of these fascinating new materials.

press release

LRSM & ASEOP Forge Collaboration with the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST)

In an exciting development, we signed a Memo of Understanding to spur increased collaboration between  Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), Materials and Life Science Research Division (MLSRD) and two centers of excellence at the University of Pennsylvania.  These include the newly launched Center AESOP (Center for Analyzing Evolved Structures as Optimized Products (AESOP): Science and engineering for the human habitat), directed by Shu Yang and Randall Kamien, and the The Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter (LRSM), directed by Arjun Yodh.   Our aim is to build on existing collaborations and synergies, and to expand them under the auspices of these  centers.  This was an exciting visit with tremendous promise of more interaction to come.

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Virgil Percec Puts a New Twist on Chirality

The building blocks of life, such as amino acids, sugars and DNA, all exhibit the same enantiomeric form. This phenomenon – known as homochirality – enables biological and synthetic macromolecules to achieve highly ordered structures and thus exhibit function. Recent work from the Percec group challenges the notion that homochirality is a prerequisite for the generation of highly ordered supramolecular crystals, by demonstrating that homochiral and racemic building blocks can self-assemble into crystalline arrays of identically high order. Such self-assembly is possible only via a newly elaborated cogwheel mechanism, in which the exterior of the supramolecular column is invariant to the stereochemistry of its building blocks. Alkyl chain ‘teeth’ on the columns’ periphery interlock to form the highly ordered structures. This mechanism is anticipated to provide access to other homochiral crystals with practical applications in photovoltaics and organic electronics.

news release

Arjun Yodh helps explain "Why Light Matters"

On October 27, 2015, Arjun Yodh, the Director of The Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter at the University of Pennsylvania, with, William W. Braham, Professor of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania and Ravi Sheth, Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania, spoke on “Why Light Matters” at The Franklin Institute. The event was hosted by Derrick Pitts, Chief Astronomer, The Franklin Institute and was presented to a packed audience in the Franklin Theater.

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LRSM summer high school science program participant receives MUREP NASA scholarship

Jordan Caraballo Vega, a freshmen at the University of Puerto Rico in Humacao, was chosen as one of ten students across the United States and Puerto Rico to receive the Minority University Research and Education Programs Small Projects scholarship awarded by NASA. The scholarship covers tuition and summer internships in NASA research laboratories up to a maximum of $15,000 annually for two years. Jordan, a PREM undergraduate, attended the Penn Summer Science Initiative program for high school students in 2014 and worked with Penn professor Jorge Santiago to form the idea for this proposed research project.

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LRSM research partnership with University of Puerto Rico receives $3M PREM

A partnership between the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Puerto Rico was one of six to receive $3M in funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The program, called the Partnership for Research and Education in Materials (PREM), links NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers (MRSECs) with educational institutions that serve mainly minority populations. The five year PREM will sustain an extraordinarily successful collaboration between the LRSM (which hosts Penn’s MRSEC) and three undergraduate campuses from the University of Puerto Rico. The effort began in 1998 under the NSF CIRE program and has continued with PREM support since 2004. The collaboration will focus on diversifying the pipeline of scientists in all age groups based on research in two general materials topics to integrate research and education: nanoscale interactions of macromolecules at soft and hard interfaces and multi-functional nanodevices from optoelectronic materials. 

[ Penn news release ]
[ NSF news release ]

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NSF Awards $250K for Topological Materials SUPERSeed

The NSF recently awarded funding ($250K) for a new SUPERSeed, Topological Quantum Materials between Two and Three Dimensions. LRSM’s SUPERSeed will combine theory, computation and experiment on topics that lie at the intersection between materials science and topological physics: layered 2D materials, topological semimetals, and ferroelectric (FE) topological insulators. Senior investigators in the SUPERSeed are Charlie Kane, Gene Mele, and Charlie Johnson from the Department of Physics & Astronomy, Andrew Rappe from the Chemistry Department, and Ritesh Agarwal from Materials Science & Engineering; collaborators include Jessica Anna (Chemistry), I-Wei Chen and Peter K. Davies (both MSE), and Chris B. Murray (Chem/MSE). The research builds on the surprising interplay between symmetry and topology in materials electronic structure, motivated by seminal discoveries about topological insulators at Penn. The Penn collaboration was one of three SUPERSeeds selected for support by the NSF this summer, from a highly competitive group of 23 MRSEC proposals.

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NSF Supports Helium Conservation in the Property Measurement Facility

The NSF has awarded additional funds to support helium conservation in the Property Measurement Shared Experimental Facility (SEF). The SEF hosts over a dozen low temperature measurement capabilities requiring liquid helium. Using the award, the Property Measurement Facility will add a helium re-liquefier to a cryogenic, superconducting magnet system.  The new equipment will nearly eliminate helium consumption in the facility, and will enable high levels of instrument availability for end-users.  Helium is a vanishing resource on our planet that plays an important role in scientific discovery.  This award will allow us to recapture helium rather than releasing it into our atmosphere and, ultimately, outer space.

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Former LRSM Student Pioneers a Materials Breakthrough after Decades of Research

Krishan L. Luthra has recently been recognized for development of a novel lightweight and strong ceramic that is stable at high temperatures. Luthra was a graduate student with Prof. Wayne Worrell, MSE, and was supported by LRSM’s block NSF grant to study “The Chemical Behavior of Materials at Elevated Temperatures” in the 1970s. After completing his Ph.D., he went to work for GE in 1976 and now, almost 40 years later, has met with outstanding success in developing a new lightweight, strong ceramic that is stable at very high temperatures. It is being used by GE in advanced jet engines that have potential savings of up to 10% in fuel cost while improving engine thrust by 25%. To date this development has helped GE generate more than $100 billion in sales to airlines and has wider applicability.

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New soft matter topical group of the American Physical Society

GSOFT is a new topical group within the American Physical Society is devoted to the science of soft condensed matter. LRSM research in our soft matter IRGs and Seeds are intellectually coupled to this new APS group, led by LRSM faculty member Randall Kamien.

[ APS Topical Group on Soft Matter ]

news release

Crystal-crystal phase transitions with liquid intermediate states

Single-particle-resolution video microscopy of colloidal films reveal that transitions two different colloidal crystals (square- and triangular-lattices) occur via a two-step nucleation pathway with liquid nuclei in the intermediate stage. The nucleation pathway is favored over the direct one-step nucleation because the energy of the solid/liquid interface is lower than that between solid phases.The findings suggest that an intermediate liquid could exist in the nucleation processes of solid–solid transitions of many metals and alloys, and provide guidance for better control of the kinetics of the transition and for future refinements of solid–solid transition theory.

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LRSM Science Café @ World Cafe Live

The LRSM Science Café has formed a new partnership with World Cafe Live (3025 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA), just off the Penn campus and only two blocks from the LRSM building. Beginning in January, 2013, our Science Cafés will be held in the upstairs room at WCL, starting at 6:30 pm. This is a larger venue than usual and we encourage attendees to come early for dinner before the presentation which will last, typically, 30-45 minutes and be followed by an open discussion session between speaker and the audience. The WCL is readily accessible by train, 30th St. Station, bus, 9, 21 and 42, and car, by on-street Pay and Display parking.

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Russell J. Composto receives NSF Special Creativity Award

The award recognizes his pioneering research on the dispersion and assembly of gold nanorods confined to polymer nanolayers and their potential applications for optical property control.

news release

Quick News Links

  • Marija Drndić lab builds and tests transistors inside a microscope. news release ACS Nano
  • Andrea Liu elected to the National Academy of Sciences. news release
  • Randy Kamien Wins Prestigious Award in Liquid Crystal Science news release
  • Virgil Percec Puts a New Twist on Chirality news release
  • Amish Patel Demystifies the ‘Dewetting’ Process news release
  • Shu Yang Receives Heilmeier Research Award news release
  • Russell Composto, Zahra Fakhraai, and Daeyeon Lee are leading an international collaboration on Shelter Science news release
  • Dennis Discher Elected to the National Academy of Medicine news release
  • LRSM Faculty, Charlie Johnson and Marija Drndic, awarded $2 million EFRIs for 2D Materials news release
  • Shu Yang group design material that could help diagnose concussions news release
  • Marija Drndić & Jeffery G. Saven Use Nanoscopic Pores to Investigate Protein Structure news release
  • Alison Sweeney - Diving Deep for Alternative Energy news release
  • Ritesh Agarwal & Eugene Mele with Sajal Dhara Discover New Chiral Property of Silicon, With Photonic Applications. news release
  • Dennis Discher and LRSM Collaborators garner Physical Sciences Oncology Center from NIH. news release
  • Former LRSM Student, Krishan L. Luthra, Pioneers a Materials Breakthrough after Decades of Research. read more
  • Kathleen Stebe, Shu Yang, and Randall Kamien: Liquid-crystal-based Compound Lenses That Work Like Insect Eyes news release
  • Virgil Percec Develops Custom Artificial Membranes to Study the Molecular Basis of Disease news release
  • Cherie Kagan & Paulo Arratia - Penn Engineering 2015 Teaching Awards news release
  • New soft matter topical group of the American Physical Society led by Randall Kamien read more
  • Gazette article on Charles Kane's discovery of topological insulators read article
  • Talid Sinno, John Crocker, Kathleen Stebe use 'Soft' Nanoparticles to Model Behavior at Interfaces news release
  • Arjun Yodh and Tom Lubensky Discovers New Liquid Crystal Configurations news release
  • Robert Carpick helps explain Anti-wear Motor Oil Additive properties. news release
  • Nader Engheta & Zahra Fakhraai Develop a Way of Making Light-bending 'Raspberry-like Metamolecules' news release
  • Shu Yang, with help from Daniel Gianola, develop 'smart' windows. news release
  • David Srolovitz Elected to National Academy Of Engineering news release
  • Zahra Fakhraai Awarded Sloan Fellowship news release
  • Penn Student Chronicles the Emergence of Interdisciplinary Science Through Architecture news release
  • A.T. Charlie Johnson & Ritesh Agarwal Develop New Technique for Making Graphene Competitor, Molybdenum Disulfide news release
  • Philip Nelson discusses the ins and outs of authoring a science textbook news release
  • Shu Yang Named National Academy of Inventors Fellow news release
  • Randall Kamien and Shu Yang, Outline Basic Rules for Construction With a Type of Origami [ news release
  • Charles Kane and Eugene Mele, Win Benjamin Franklin Medal news release
  • Douglas Durian (U Penn) in collaboration with Remi Dreyfus (CNRS/Solvay), as part of the joint Compass laboratory, have studied the morphology of fingered flow in laboratory models of sandy soils with hydrogel particle additives. view paper
  • Alison Sweeney Receives 2014 Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering read more
  • Arjun Yodh's group research helps uncover mechanism behind Solid-Solid Phase Transitions news release
  • Marija Drndic, Jennifer Lukes and Christopher Murray Study Nanocrystals by Passing Them Through Tiny Pores. news release
  • Virgil Percec, Paul Heiney: 'Onion' Vesicles for Drug Delivery news release C&EN article
  • Arjun Yodh Reappointed Director of LRSM read more
  • RET Alumn, Trey Smith receives Teacher as Hero Award read more
  • Charles Kane Elected to National Academy of Sciences news release
  • Philadelphia Science Festival 2014 read more
  • Science at the Sixers with Matthew Lohr and Daniel Beller highlight
  • Paulo Arratia - ‘Design for Failure’ With Model Material news release
  • Tom Lubensky and Charles Kane are "Stretching Boundaries" read more
  • Yodh, Lubensky and Collings are Turning Water Droplets Into ‘Gemstones’ news release PNAS link
  • Randy Kamien: Planting a Liquid-Crystal Garden read more press release
  • Shu Yang: superhydrophobic coatings watch video
  • Stebe, Kamien & Yang Add Another Tool in Their Directed Assembly Toolkit read more
  • Karen Winey: Computer Model That Will Help Design Flexible Touchscreenss read more
  • Dennis Discher and Stem Cell Differentiation read more
  • Kagan group ground breaking research published in ACS Nano demonstrates in-situ repair of nanocrystal surfaces allows large-area nanocrystal device fabrication in air and solvents. read article in ACS Nano
  • Research by Arjun Yodh of Physics and Astronomy indicates that stuttering may be caused by blood flow and hemodynamic changes in parts of the brain that control speech. read more
  • Dawn Bonnell, NBIC Director, appointed to Vice Provost for Research
  • MRSEC Team members win a $2 million, four-year NSF grant
  • Randy Kamien named Simons Investigator
  • Drndic: Advance in Nanotech Gene Sequencing Technique
  • LRSM-COMPLOIDS Workshop on Soft Matter April 17-19
  • Jennifer A. Lewis, "Printing Functional Materials" 3:00PM, LRSM Auditorium poster
  • Dennis Discher: "Protein 'Passport' That Help Nanoparticles Get Past Immune System" highlight
  • Dawn Bonnell Elected to National Academy of Engineering press release
  • Crocker & Sinno Use DNA to Make Crystals That Can Switch Configurations press release
  • Yodh, Durian groups Show Math Behind Growth of 'Coffee Rings' press release
  • Randall Kamien and Tom Lubensky, Help Create 'Recipe Book' for Building New Materials. press release
  • Penn team making waves with liquid crystals read more press release
  • SAS Interview with Charles Kane on Topological Insulators read article
  • LRSM Science Café @ World Cafe Live read more
  • Russell J. Composto receives NSF Special Creativity Award read more
  • Facilities for Nanotechnology in Philadelphia workshop 1.8.13 more info
  • Daeyeon Lee on crack-free nanoparticle films read more
  • Charles Kane Named Simons Investigator and Awarded $500,000 Grant read more
  • Watch video recorded during LRSM's 50th Celebration! watch the videos
  • Charles Kane Named Simons Investigator and Awarded $500,000 Grant read more
  • Kathleen Stebe Shows New Way of Assembling Particles Into Complex Structures read more
  • Daniel Hammer: Natural Plant Protein Into Drug-delivery Vehicles read more
  • Charlie Johnson Expands the Use of Carbon Nanotubes read more
  • Celebrating LRSM's 50th! read more
  • PREM Event: The New Science of Disordered Materials view poster
  • 2nd COMPASS Symposium March 28, 2012 view poster
  • Dennis Discher Elected to National Academy of Engineering read more
  • Philly Materials Science and Engineering Day, February 4, 2012 read more
  • Lukes and Winkelstein named 2012 Penn Fellows
  • Charlie Kane, 2012 Oliver E. Buckley Prize more
  • LRSM-NIMS Materials Workshop read more
  • Inside cover Advanced Materials, December 8, 2011 read article
  • LRSM awarded a six-year MRSEC grant from the NSF read more
  • Sensing membrane stress with near IR-emissive porphyrins