The focus of our research is to understand the connection between structure and function in complex macromolecular materials, with interests both in artificial macromolecules (synthetic polymers) and in biological ones (proteins, DNA). Using time-resolved optical techniques (ultrafast laser spectroscopy and single-molecule fluorescence microscopy) my group will develop ways to characterize multiscale, dynamic processes in disordered materials at their native time and length scales. I will exploit the connections between optoelectronic properties and physical structure to:
- Unveil the conformational changes of individual polymer chains forced away from equilibrium. Dynamic structure transformations of individual macromolecular chains are behind critical steps in genome packaging, protein trafficking, and polymer sorting. New, time-resolved optical techniques sensitive to conformational changes will allow us to study the intramolecular and environmental variables that determine the dynamics of polymer structure.
- Observe the elementary processes behind charge generation and transport in electronic materials. The use of polymers as electronic materials in consumer electronics and biocompatible applications is hindered by their disordered microstructure. Using ultrafast laser spectroscopy tools, my group will analyze the molecular properties that enable efficient charge transport in this interesting class of materials.