rafael verduzco photo

WEBSITE(S)| http://verduzcolab.blogs.rice.edu/

SURF Mentoring

Potential projects/topics: This project will focus on the development of photoactive materials for the decontamination of "forever chemicals" from water. Forever chemicals, also known as PFAS, are persistent chemical pollutants that have contaminated groundwater and drinking water. In this project, we are developing photo-active materials that can both adsorb and then photochemically degrade PFAS pollutants using sunlight or ambient light. The work will potentially produce a low-cost method for treating and decontaminating water.

Potential skills gained: Handling of nanomaterials; chemical wetlab skills; analysis of membranes and water samples; teammwork; presentation skills; project management and planning

Required qualifications: knowledge of organic chemistry is helpful but not required

Direct mentor: Post-doctorate, Graduate Student

Student Project Titles List

Engineering Thermo- & Photo-Responsive Fluidic Pumps using Liquid Crystal Elastomers

Developing Ion-Selective Membranes for Copper Recovery

Research Areas

The Verduzco laboratory carries out research involving polymers, which are present in a wide variety of materials; these including commercial products as well as proteins and biological materials. The research goal of the Verduzco laboratory is to take advantage of self-assembly in polymeric materials, in particular block copolymers, for a wide range of applications, including organic solar cells, engineering surface properties, and drug encapsulation and delivery. Block copolymers with well-defined molecular structures can be used to control material properties down to the nanoscale. The Verduzco laboratory utilizes advanced polymer synthesis techniques as well as a variety of nanoscale characterization tools, in particular small-angle x-ray scattering which provides structural information in polymer thin films and powders. In one current are of research, the Verduzco group is developing semiconductive block copolymers for use in polymer based solar cells, which are significantly cheaper and easier to fabricate compared with silicon-based solar cells. Semiconductive block polymers which can self-assemble into nanostructured photovoltaic films can potentially lead to higher power conversion efficiencies as well as quantitative information on the relationship between performance, optoelectronic properties, and structural details.