Liu 2020 Trends in Chemistry Cover


We are interested in developing novel materials synthesis and fabrication methods at the convergence of top-down and bottom-up approaches for directed assembly of complex, multi-functional nano- and microstructured soft materials and their nanocomposites. By coupling chemistry, fabrication and external stimuli, the Yang lab addresses the fundamental questions at surface-interface in a precisely controlled environment, and study pattern evolution and the related structure-property relationship. Special interests involve synthesis and engineering of well-defined polymers, gels, colloidal particles, liquid crystals, and organic-inorganic hybrids with controlled size, shape, and morphology over multiple length scales, and investigate structural evolution in soft and geometric substrates. By extending the obtained knowledge, the Yang group seeks to direct patterning and assembly of nano- and micro-objects in solutions and on patterned surfaces to create hierarchical structures. In turn, they explore unique surface, optical, and mechanical properties, and their dynamic tuning.


Bio-organisms often exhibit an exquisite array of hierarchical organization with multiscale structures as exemplified by the iridescence in blue Morpho butterflies, the waveguiding properties in diatom exoskeletons, the self-cleaning ability of lotus leaves, and the dry adhesion of Gecko foot hairs. These examples provide inspirations for the development of new functional hybrid materials. To mimic hierarchical organization in nature, one of the emerging strategies is the convergence of top-down microfabrication and bottom-up nanoassembly. Can we use engineer’s tools and models to mimic the hierarchical organization in bio-organisms? Taking the cues of how bio-organisms interact and response to environmental settings (light, heat and moisture), can we design and synthesize new suites of responsive materials to advance modern technology? In the meantime, by understanding biodiversity and structure-property relationship, we can improve the natural ecosystems.