Programmable materials are materials whose properties, behavior, and functionality are directly dictated by the chemical information that is written and programmed in them. The prime example of such materials are proteins, in which the programming of the amino acid sequence (the primary structure) directly determines the three-dimensional structure (the tertiary structure).
Our group studies chemically programmable materials that contain a sequence of commands (information) for performing a specific task or function coded in their chemical structure. In particular, we are interested in synthesis and fabrication of polymer fibers that can hold chemical and physical information, and study how can this information be used for folding these one-dimensional fibers into three-dimensional structures, and how can a specific design lead to selective binding and to self-assembly. Using tools from thermodynamic and from Information Theory, we explore the underlying principles that determine the behavior of programmable materials. We also study the use of such materials for fabrication of microelectromechanical systems (MEMs) and for medical applications including tissue engineering and smart drugs release mechanisms.
In our lab, we employ a variety of fabrication techniques including lithography, electrohydrodynamic co-jetting, and deposition methods. In addition, we make use an array of microscopy and spectroscopy techniques for characterization and manipulation of these systems, and utilize a variety of computational and theoretical tools for modeling, analysis, and understanding the characteristics of such materials.