The Daniel Blankschtein Research Group

The DB Research Group carries out theoretical and experimental research in the interdisciplinary field of Colloid and Interface Science. Systems studied include micellar (surfactant-water) solutions; aqueous micellar solutions with solubilized hydrophobic solutes, including pharmaceutically-relevant drugs; aqueous dispersions of carbon nanotubes, graphene, and other 2D materials, stabilized using surfactants and polymers; and dispersion and stabilization of 2D nanomaterials (e.g., graphene, molybdenum disulfide) using non-aqueous solvents. The research program emphasizes the essential interplay between theory, experiment, and practical applications.

The field of Colloid and Interface Science is becoming increasingly important to a large number of industrial, environmental, electronic, biotechnological, and biomedical applications where chemical engineers can play a pivotal role. These applications include detergency, emulsification, and wetting; adhesives, coatings, and thin films; petrochemical processes; food, paint, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and photographic technologies; controlled-release of active ingredients in pharmaceuticals and consumer products; removal of trace contaminants from water sources; bioseparations; and biomedical applications including transdermal and oral drug delivery.

The theoretical research component includes thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, all-atomistic and coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations, transport phenomena, kinetics of colloid stability, and other theoretical aspects of colloid and interface science.

The experimental research component includes use of state of the art techniques for the characterization of colloidal systems. These include particle shape and size determinations using static and dynamic light scattering, measurement of equilibrium and dynamic surface and interfacial tensions, contact angle determination, and viscosity measurement.

In addition, in the transdermal and oral drug delivery areas, we utilize permeability and conductivity measurements, confocal and two-photon fluoresence microscopy, liquid scintillation counting to assay radioactive permeants, UV/vis to assay fluorescent permeants, immunological tools which include ELISA , immunofluorescence staining, and flow cytometry, and safety-related measurements, including in vivo recovery studies, transepidermal water loss, and histology.

Current research includes:

  • Molecular-thermodynamic modeling of the bulk and interfacial behavior of surfactant systems.
  • Computer simulations of self-assembling systems.
  • Computer simulations of surfactant/polymer-induced dispersion and stabilization of carbon nanotubes, graphene, and other 2D nanomaterials in aqueous media.
  • Development of user-friendly computer programs to predict bulk solution properties and interfacial properties of surfactant systems.
  • Fundamental investigation of the equilibrium and kinetics of surfactant adsorption at interfaces.
  • Surfactant reagent selection in reverse phosphate flotation for enhanced fertilizer production.
  • Ultrasond-assisted transdermal and oral vaccine and drug delivery.