Research

          From the first time I was introduced to the separation technique know as capillary electrophoresis (CE), I was absolutely captivated by the ability to manipulate matter with an electric field.  By applying a sufficiently large electric field to a medium containing an electrolyte solution, simple ions and charged molecules can be made to move.  Their motion in this field is proportional to their charge to size ratio, with small, highly charged ions moving the fastest.  In CE, the separation is often accomplished inside a fused-silica capillary; as a combined consequence of the charged surface of the capillary and the electrolyte solution contained inside, the bulk solution can also be made to move through the capillary.  This "pumping" action, or electroosmosis, sweeps the electrolyte solution through the capillary.  A schematic of a typical CE-setup is shown below:


This simple experiment has nudged my scientific curiosity toward the study and application of various forms of separation techniques, including gas and liquid chromatography, as well as CE.  For nearly a decade, I've been experimenting with these techniques and my interest and excitement in separations has never waned!




          My research interests incorporate the use of these separation techniques in new, novel ways to investigate problems of environmental interest.  My most recent work has been directed towards utilizing CE for the characterization of engineered nanoparticles and the understanding their environmental impact.  Nanomaterials are matter in the nanoscale, on the order of 1 x 10-9 meters.  Check out the Department of Energy's website to get an idea of the size of nanomaterials.  These materials have very unique properties that make them very appealing for a variety of applications.  For a great introduction into the world of nanomaterials, visit the National Nanotechnology Initiative's website.




Overlay of electropherograms generated with a sample containing magic-sized CdSe nanocrystals.
           While there has been significant progress in the field of nanoparticle research, one sub-set has received considerably less attention.  These ultra-small, or magic-sized, nanocrystals, are nanoparticles that approach the dimensions of large molecules and have been described as having very unique properties as compared to "normal-sized" nanoparticles.  One of my interests involves studying a type of ultra-small cadmium chalcogenide nanocrysal that have exciting and unique properties.  Traditional nanoparticle characterization techniques have not been effective in fully revealing certain aspects of their features.  My aim is to employ a range of analytical techniques based upon CE to further the knowledge of their physical and chemical properties.  Not only can CE be an effective separation technique, but it can also reveal intricate details of the nanoparticle's properties during the separation.


           As this is my first year at Elmira College, I'm looking for motivated students interesting in joining me in this venture.  If you are interested, or if you have an idea that you would like to talk about pursuing, please feel free to contact me!