KABlab at Boston University

new takes on hierarchical soft matter

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The KABlab studies hierarchically structured soft materials including polymers and smart fluids. However, to interrogate, design, and control these materials across all relevant scales requires innovations in instrumentation and novel approaches to accelerating research more generally.


ACCELERATING RESEARCH: Nanocombinatorics and autonomous research:

Interrogating numerous length scales requires new approaches as existing Edisonian techniques are hopelessly outmatched by the vast parameter space. We apply two emerging techniques to address this, (1) the development of novel nanocombinatorial approaches that leverage scanning probes to interrogate and pattern small scale materials and (2) autonomous research systems in which automation is partnered with machine learning to vastly accelerate the rate of knowledge generation.


PARTICLES: Fundamental Properties to Smart Fluids

Nanoparticles are fascinating and useful materials that can exhibit extraordinary properties. When interacting, collections of particles can lead to the emergence of novel bulk properties and form smart fluids whose properties change with applied fields. We study the properties of individual particles such as their polarizability and connect them to a continuum picture of smart fluids to rationally design new methods of assembly and smart fluids more generally. Systems of interest include liquid marbles, magnetorheological fluids, and electrohydrodynamic effects.


POLYMERS: Mechanics from Molecules to Structures

Nature uses structures with many length scales to form extraordinary materials using otherwise mundane constituents. We take inspiration from this and seek to identify the most effective ways to combine materials in three dimensional arrangements. Projects in this area include fundamental studies of polymer nanomechanics, developing novel ways to pattern soft polymers, and the design of macroscopic structures for superlative properties such as energy absorption.

Assistant Professor Keith A. Brown leads the interdisciplinary KABLab. He holds appointments in Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science & Engineering, and Physics

We gratefully acknowledge support from:

The Air Force Office of Scientific Research

Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) FA9550-1-16-1-0150

The National Science Foundation

Nanomanufacturing (NM) CMMI-1661412

The American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund

Doctoral New Investigator 57452-DNI9

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

The Moorman-Simon Interdisciplinary Career Development Professorship

The Boston University College of Engineering

Dean's Catalyst Award

The Boston University Nanotechnology Innovation Center (BUnano)

The Boston University Division of Materials Science & Engineering

MSE Innovation Award