We are a research group in Department of Chemistry at BUET. Our main research focus is to design and fabricate “smart” soft materials such as polymers, colloids, liquid crystals, films, elastomers, nanocomposites, and hydrogels. These are used in a variety of applications including energy, drug delivery systems, waste water treatment, liquid crystal displays, materials for regenerative medicine, sensors and biomaterials. We are working on the preparation of smart soft materials by introducing various components and functionalities which can be used more exquisitely than the conventional one.

i. Mechanical properties enhancements of smart polymeric films, elastomers and hydrogels

Hydrogels and elastomers can reversibly change their size and shape under different conditions. This property makes them attractive for a wide variety of applications, including artificial muscles, drug delivery, and sensors. But they have not yet been commercialized for applications as they are usually weak and brittle. We are designing films, elastomers and hydrogels with environmental sensitivities that are extremely stretchable as well as mechanically strong by introducing supramolecular polyrotaxane cross-linkers into the polymer network. The improvements mark an important step toward enabling hydrogels to reach their full commercial potential. Additionally, fast stimuli-sensitive polymeric materials that exhibit reversible changes in their selective permeability to molecules, surface wettability and ability to convert chemical energy into mechanical energy are trying to use them as drug delivery systems, artificial muscles and sensors.

ii. Functionalized nanomaterials and nanocomposite materials for their energy, waste water treatment and biomedical applications.

Nanostructured materials in the form of nano-particles, nano-rods, nano-tubes, nano-foams, nano-pillars, nano-layers, nano-flakes, nano-coatings, and nano-devices have dominated the research arena in the past two decades. Current research involves studies of nanostructured materials for biomedical applications, energy harvesting and storage applications including batteries, fuel cells, and supercapacitors; electronic/optoelectronic and photonic devices based on organic/inorganic materials, quantum dots, and liquid crystals; as well as characterizing, determining, and computing the unique biological, chemical, mechanical, and physical properties of various forms of nanostructured materials.  Quantum mechanical approaches are employed for computation purpose (Gaussian and hyperchem softwares). We are currently investigating synthesis of multivalent inorganic nanomaterials and their oxides for their application in energy storage, catalytic activity, removal of organic pollutants. We are also investigating the toughening mechanisms in polymer-layered silicate nanocomposites, using both experimental and analytical methods. The primary objective of this project is to investigate the principles underlying the toughening mechanisms of the so-called hybrid organic-inorganic nanocomposites, and to formulate more precise criteria for the selection and modification of these nanocomoposites that might result in the optimization of their impact properties without sacrificing the tensile properties. The nanocomoposites in this context refer to polymeric materials containing layered silicates like montmorillonite, hectorite, kaolinite, laponite and saponite, dispersed as a reinforcing phase in an engineering polymer matrix. In another area, we are investigating the manufacture and nanomechanics of polymer nanocomposites based on carbon nanotubes (CNTS), nancellulose, nanostarch, nanosilica, graphene, quantum dots and so no.

iii. Synthesis, analysis, processing, engineering, and applications of smart polymers

Polymers have emerged as an indispensable part of everyday life (clothing, paints, food packaging, etc) and also serve as a catalyst for the development of new technological advances in transportation, electronics, and food, water and energy security, development of drug-polymer conjugate devices and drug delivery systems. We do research on polymers, including their synthesis (via ATRP, RAFT, click chemistry, free radical polymerization method and so on), analysis, processing, engineering, and applications. Surface and interfacial phenomena, polymers modifications, engineering of functional π-conjugated systems for electronic, photonic, and energy applications, synthetic strategies for degradable polymers derived from natural resources, polymers grafted to surfaces, preparation of cyclic polymer, biopolymers and biopolymer composites, cellulosic fiber as reinforcement material, conductive polymers, and block-copolymers are being widely investigated. Self-healing is one of the most fundamental properties of living tissues that allows them to sustain repeated damage. Such healing material could also be useful in the field of energy conservation and recycling where self-healing materials could help reduce industrial and consumer waste

iv. Structural colored material as smart sensors

Fast stimuli-sensitive polymer gels are promising materials for the development of various sensors. Structure color is a phenomenon where the color observed from the the fine structure of the light and matter interactions without using pigments or dyes. Traditionally, “structural color” is described as “bright color with angle-dependence observed from material whose refractive index is periodically changed with the wavelength size of visible light”.  We also observed that a system with a short-range order in the refractive index change displays a structural color without angle-dependence. Our group is using these angle dependent and independent structural colored materials as templates to make stimuli-sensitive smart porous materials that changes their physico-chemical properties with changing the amount of adulterants, heavy metals, ionic strengths, glucose, pH.