Welcome to The Lipomi Research Group in the Department of NanoEngineering at the University of California, San Diego. We are a team of scientists and engineers interested in the overlap between three areas: energy, biomimetic materials and devices, and green chemistry and nanomanufacturing. We are interested in fundamental and applied studies that relate molecular and nanoscale structure to function, and in devices that incorporate new physical effects to solve real-world problems. What motivates us is the potential of new materials and new forms of old materials to produce and save energy, and to improve human well-being.
Our defining mission and strength, however, is our tireless support of our students and postdocs, most of whom have won prestigious awards, gone on to do postdoctoral research in top-five institutions, commercialize their own inventions, and work in several of the most groundbreaking companies on Earth. Thanks for visiting our site.
Projects in the Lipomi Research Group are interdisciplinary. They typically involve the mechanical and interfacial properties of polymeric materials, but can be used in applications from photovoltaics to wearable medical sensors to devices for understanding the ability of human beings to interact with the world through the sense of touch. Below is a sampling of some of the broad research areas in the group. These areas tend to overlap, and every project is collaborative.
Mechanical properties of organic semiconductors and semiconducting polymers with properties inspired by biological tissue. We are studying the structural determinants of the mechanical properties of conjugated (semiconducting) polymers. This project combines mechanical testing with the physics of devices under strain. We also use the insights from the project above to test ideas to render conjugated polymers - which are ordinarily stiff and brittle - deformable, biodegradable, and self-healing. This project involves synthetic polymer chemistry, molecular modeling, and the characterization of soft materials.
Metallic nanoislands on graphene. Work in this area has focused on the generation of nanoisland structures on single-layer graphene for applications from wearable sensors to cellular electrophysiology.
New concepts in thin-film photovoltaics. We are exploring new ways of optimizing solar cells, new concepts in generating transparent electrodes, and stretchable solar cells for applications requiring mechanical robustness, integration with moving parts, and bonding to non-planar surfaces. In particular, we are interested in developing a "solar tarp"--a large, ultrathin photovoltaic modules that can be balled up and unfurled hundreds of times without mechanical degradation. Such a device would be useful for off-grid energy in the developing world, disaster relief, and for covert operations.
Organic Haptics. We are interested in how the tools of materials science can be used to understand the human sense of touch. This interdisciplinary area combines the science of stimulus-responsive films, contact mechanics, and psychophysics. Ultimately, we hope to use these techniques to develop haptic interfaces for education and training, enhanced surgical procedures, and tactile therapy.