Group Members

PI | Visiting Researchers | Postdoctoral Researchers | Ph.D. Students | Master’s Students | Undergraduate Students

Dr. Russell J. Composto

Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Bioengineering, and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
LRSM 321
(215) 898-4451
Google Scholar: here

PhD Materials Science and Engineering 1987 – Cornell University
MS Materials Science 1984 – Cornell University
BA Physics 1982 – Gettysburg College

Member of:
Nano/Bio Interface Center (NBIC)
Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter (LRSM)
Institute for Medicine and Engineering (IME)
Penn Center for Energy Innovation

Visiting Researchers

Dr. Hyun-Su Lee
Visiting Scientist
Google Scholar: here

Education: Ph.D. in Chemistry, North Carolina State University, Raleigh

Project Title: Nanocarrier Drug Delivery to Improve Access and Outcomes in Lung Transplant

Collaborators: Jacob W. Myerson (PSOM), Jacob S. Brenner (PSOM), Vladimir R. Muzykantov (PSOM)

Funding Source: UPenn 2019 Formula Fund

Project Description: Current research focuses on the biological mechanism study of the complement system with nanoparticles.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Dr. Yechan Kim
Postdoctoral Researcher
Google Scholar: here

Education: Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology

Project Title: Nanoparticle Dynamics in Polyelectrolyte Brushes

Collaborators: Co-advisor: Karen I. Winey (MSE & CBE, Penn); Collaborator: Jan Genzer (CBE, NCSU) and Yale Goldman (PSOM, Penn) 

Funding Source: NSF CBET grant

Project Description: The main objective of my project is to understand the adsorption, desorption, and mobility of nanoparticles at interfaces coated with responsive polyelectrolyte. Based on this, we will provide strategies for designing of separation, sensing, and purification devices with improved performance.

Dr. Shreyas Pathreeker
Postdoctoral Researcher

Education: Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, Syracuse University, NY

Project Title: Nanoconfined Composite Polymer Electrolytes for Sustainable Energy Storage

Collaborator: Prof. Eric Detsi (MSE)

Funding Sources: NSF

Project Description:  My goal is to develop high-performance solid-state electrolytes for beyond-Li batteries by leveraging fundamental principles that relate physical confinement with polymer and ion dynamics.

Ph.D. Students

Aria Zhang
Ph.D. Candidate

Education: B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering, Cornell University

Project Title: Phase evolution of polymer-grafted nanoparticles in a polymer nanocomposites

Collaborator: N/A

Funding Sources: NSF GRFP, REACT

Project Description: My project is to study the phase behavior of nanoparticles grafted with polymers in a polymer matrix. The objective is to investigate the dependence of phase behavior on nanoparticle sizes film thicknesses, and other parameters. ToF-SIMS, AFM, and TEM are used to depth profiles the films, probe the topography, and image the film cross-sections, respectively. The spatial arrangement of the nanoparticles in a polymer matrix can enhance the polymer properties, leading to a wide range of applications, such as modified surface properties of polymer nanocomposites with an enriched surface layer of silica nanoparticle, and tunable optical properties of polymers by incorporating gold nanoparticles into the system. 

Weiwei Kong
Ph.D. Candidate
LinkedIn: here

Education: B.S.E. in Polymer Science and Engineering, Case Western Reserve University

Project Title: Polymer kinetics under confinement inside metal complex

Collaborators:  Zahra Fakhraai (Chemistry), Eric Detsi (MSE), Eric Stach (MSE)

Funding Sources: NSF/DMR

Project Description: Recent research on nanocomposites has been focused on adding inorganic nanofibers into polymer matrices to impart properties not found in individual polymers. To further enhance the mechanical properties and ion conductivity, we fabricate bicontinuous polymer infiltrated scaffold metal (PrISM). PrISM composites are made by infiltrating polymers into the nanoporous gold (NPG) which has a bicontinuous structure. The infiltration kinetics depends on factors such as polymer molecular weight, polymer affinity with the gold scaffold, and the gold scaffold ligament size. The objectives of my project are to determine the effect of confinement on polymer infiltration, the effect of different polymer types on the infiltration kinetics, and the ion conductivity of the PEO filled NPG system.

Katie Sun
Ph.D. Student
Google Scholar: here
LinkedIn: here

Education: B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering, Rutgers University

Project Title: Nanoparticle Interactions and Nanoscale Transport in Polyelectrolyte Brushes

Collaborators: Co-advised: Karen I. Winey (MSE & CBE)

Funding Sources: NSF CBET

Project Description: I will be researching nanoparticle (NP) dynamics through investigating NP absorption, desorption and transport at interfaces, particularly interfaces modified by charged polymers. The adsorption thermodynamics and diffusion of NPs at model and polyelectrolyte brush interfaces will be investigated, as well.

Justin Hughes
Ph.D. Student

Education: B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering, University of Maryland College Park

Project Title: Thermodynamic and Dynamic behavior of polyelectrolyte grafted brushes studied with autonomous experimentation

Collaborators: N/A

Funding Sources: NSF DMR

Project description: I will be studying the thermodynamic and dynamic behavior of charged polymer brushes with a combination of experimental and computational methods.

Sydni Wilson
Ph.D. Student

Education: B.S. in Chemistry, Jackson State University 

Project Title: Lipid Nanoparticle Delivery of Dental Therapeutics

Collaborators: N/A

Funding Sources: UPenn SOE

Project description: The goal of my project is to investigate the interfacial interactions of lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) on mineralized surfaces and subsequently utilize the LNPs for employing therapeutics to dental materials.

Master’s Students

Rongyue (Stella) Lin

Education: B.S. from University of Science and Technology Beijing (China)

Project Title: Optical Properties of Polymer Infiltrated Nanoporous Gold

Mentor: Weiwei Kong

Project description: I will be studying using Discrete-Dipole Approximation to simulate the behavior of localized surface plasmon resonance of NPG with different infiltration extent.

Undergraduate Students

Isa Pan

Isa is an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania in the VIPER program majoring in Materials Science & Engineering and Chemistry. She joined the group in the summer of 2022. She is currently studying the pH dependence of polymer brushes under the mentorship of Weiwei Kong.

Colby Snyder
(ChemE & Physics)

Colby is an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania in the VIPER program majoring in Chemical Engineering and Physics. He will be joining the group in the summer of 2023. He will be investigating inorganic scaffolds for composite polymer electrolytes under the mentorship of Dr. Shreyas Pathreeker.