Department of Chemical Engineering, UB Distinguished
Materials Science and Engineering, Co-Director
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Acting Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education
Genomics and proteomics; Ion channel kinetics and structure; Membrane Transport (Ion Transport); Protein Function and Structure; Proteins and metalloenzymes
Professor Alexandridis' research aims to create and manipulate molecular organization at the nano-scale and organization at the micron-scale of nano-objects via (a) the self-assembly of amphiphiles in a variety of conformations and length-scales, and/or (b) the use of prescribed external fields to direct macromolecules, assemblies, and/or particles.
Amphiphiles such as block copolymers, surfactants, lipids and proteins, posses moieties with an affinity for different environments. This molecular design enables amphiphiles to spontaneously organize: self-assembly. Self-assembly is an energy-efficient process that leads to functional, high value-added products with desired compartmentalization, compatibilization, rheological, and interfacial properties. Nano-scale objects resulting from self-assembly or (bio)synthesis (e.g., cells, nanoparticles) can be organized over larger length-scales, often in a hierarchical fashion, via the application of external fields (flow, electric): directed assembly.
According to the 2003 National Research Council report Beyond the Molecular Frontier, the development of "self-assembly as a useful approach to the synthesis and manufacturing of complex systems and materials" is one of the "grand challenges" that chemical engineers will face in the years to come.
Alexandridis' work impacts emerging paradigms of chemical engineering on molecular engineering of materials and on product design and development. In order for novel "smart", "nano", and "bio" materials to benefit society, they have to be (i) incorporated into products that meet customer needs and (ii) manufactured in an efficient manner with respect to cost and environment. Polymers, surfactants, proteins and nanoparticles, essential "ingredients" of Alexandridis' research, organized via self- and directed assembly methodologies, are well poised to meet the objectives of efficiently designing and manufacturing functional products.