GEMS is a new Center of Excellence aiming to bridge fundamental surfactant science and engineering to practical manufacturing through high-throughput, environmentally friendly, and effective processes. This effort has been initially sponsored by our industry partner VeruTEK who will have strong interactions with the UConn Tech Park. The Director of the Center is Dr. Steven L. Suib.
Surfactants, due to their amphiphilic properties, lead to simple and controllable self assembly processes, that have broad industrial uses in areas from nanomaterials to cosmetics to biocatalysis. However, some of these materials have toxic environmental effects and complicated structural behavior (depending on molecular architecture, thermodynamics, kinetics, crystallinity, hydrophobicity, and charge density). GEMS is the first center in the US to focus on the environmentally friendly preparation and use of green emulsions, micelles, and surfactants (EMS) bridging fundamental science, engineering, and practical applications.
The initial group of participants brings together unique skills in surfactant based processes, including nanomaterials synthesis, biomaterials, biocatalysis, computational modeling, and biosensors. They include members of the Chemistry Department, Materials Science and Engineering, and the Institute of Materials Science (IMS). Several aspects of this center are being covered by existing researchers. However, new researchers are being hired to strengthen the GEMS Center. Dr. Jie He, an expert in hybrid amphiphilic particles, will join the Chemistry Department and the GEMS Center in January 2014. Ongoing recruiting efforts exist for two other new faculty members. The Center is based in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS). There is already a strong complement of advanced instrumentation available in the Department of Chemistry, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and IMS, with plans to add more in collaboration with the new UCONN Tech Park. Drs. Suib and Howell are collaborating in this area and are two key initial members of the Center. Dr. Rusling is another key member of GEMS with a focus on use of EMS in biological systems. Details of all members are given here.