MRSEC Research at Penn

The P&A department plays a large role in the Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter (LRSM). One focus of LRSM research between faculty from different departments and schools is soft matter and how it conforms, assembles, and reconfigures in response to the geometry and chemistry of bounding surfaces and interfaces.


Dark Energy Studies

Professor Masao Sako uses Type Ia supernovae to study the expansion history of the universe.  The graphs show (left and middle) Hubble diagrams from a simulated 5-year Type Ia sample from the Dark Energy Survey.  The right graph shows the 95% confidence limits on dark energy parameters.

Proteins on Carbon Nanotubes

The image shows an example of peptides that assemble into a tubular structure surrouding single-walled carbon nanotubes.  The geometrically defined, virus-like coating created by these peptides converts the smooth surfaces of carbon nanotubes into highly textured assemblies with long-scale order, capable of directing the assembly of gold nanoparticles into helical arrays along the nanotube axis.


The Epoch of Reionization


Astrophysicists are interested in tracing the development of large scale structure during the so-called Epoch of Reionization - the period in the history of the universe in which the first luminous sources turn on and ionize neutral hydrogen in their vicinity.  Prof. Adam Lidz studies the theory of how to detect and gain information from radition emitted during this period.


Self-assembling Building Blocks

Self-assembling building blocks occur in a diverse set of supramolecular, macromolecular, and other complex systems that impact numerous fields such as industrial dyes and pigments, xerographic receptors, organic semiconductors, transistors, light-emitting diodes and solar cells.  Prof. Paul Heiney collaborates with chemists and material scientists on the study of such molecular systems.