rafael verduzco photo

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

SURF Mentoring

Potential projects/topics: There is a need for robust, scalable, and robust processes to produce clean drinking water. Specifically, there is a need for new materials that can treat water contaminated with "forever chemicals," which are persistent, fluorinated molecules that do not degrade naturally in the environment. This project will focus on the development of photo-active nanomaterials that can adsorb and photochemically degrade these harmful chemicals. Our approach involves the development of covalent organic frameworks (COFs), which are mesh-like macromolecules that are also photoactive. The student on this project will learn how to fabricate these materials and use them in water treatment processes and applications. The work will involve preparing the materials, quantifying the solution concentration of contaminants, and testing different adsorption and degradation methods.

Potential skills gained: material preparation, material characterization, and water characterization. Collaboration with senior students and faculty. Presentation skills and other communication skills, including writing reports.

Required qualifications: Enthusiasm for research

Direct mentor: Faculty/P.I., Post-doctorate, Graduate Student

Student Project Titles List

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

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.