Matt earned his PhD in Chemical Engineering from Auburn University in the laboratory of Dr. Virginia A. Davis. His PhD work focused on interactions in anisotropic nanomaterials dispersions. This research was focused in two areas: interactions of single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNT) with biomolecules and biological systems and (2) self-assembly of anisotropic phases. The first work explored covalent vs. noncovalent attachment of lysozyme, and antibacterial enzyme, on SWCNT as well as the intrinsic antibacterial properties of carbon nanotubes. Using a combination of engineering principles and microbiological techniques he designed experiments to evaluate antibacterial performance of SWCNT dispersions. The second area focused on lyotopic cholesteric liquid crystalline phases of both Cellulose nanocrystal (CNC) mesogens and DNA-SWCNT hybrid mesogens and their orientation behavior under flow and post-shear relaxation conditions. This work used optical, rheological and rheo-optical techniques, including rheology combined with microscopy and small-angle neutron scattering, to investigate mesogen orientation.
As an associate of the Particles, Tubes, and Colloids project at NIST we are working to characterize particle size and composition distributions in complex mixtures that result from the wearing of composite materials. These particle populations can contain a wide range of sizes, shapes, and chemical functionalization, which make them particularly difficult to characterize. An example of an application for which such materials are important is in brake pads, in particular for airline brakes. It is believed that the population of particles developed during braking can vary significantly with the manner of their use and environmental effects, with subsequent influence to braking performance. Proper characterization of this wear material is expected to give insight on performance and degradation mechanisms, potentially leading to improved composite designs and extended usable lifetimes in braking applications.