The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Ford Paper Makes Influential "Research Highlights"

A new paper co-authored by Chemical Engineering Department faculty members David Ford and Dimitrios Maroudas and their jointly advised doctoral student, Ray M. Sehgal, among others, was chosen as a research highlight on the website of the Journal of Chemical Physics. "The Journal of Chemical Physics would like to congratulate you on the success of your manuscript, entitled 'Fokker-Planck Analysis of Separation Dependent Potentials and Diffusion Coefficients in Simulated Microscopy Experiments,' as having been chosen as a research highlight featured on the journal website home page," the journal wrote.

"This is an impressive accomplishment with which you must be very pleased.” The other authors were Daniel J. Beltran-Villegas and Michael Bevan of Johns Hopkins University. The paper was the first joint article based on the collaborative research of Ford and Bevan after being funded by a $542,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s prestigious Cyber-Enabled Discovery and Innovation Program.

The NSF study will, among other things, create the building blocks of the next computer revolution. The two collaborators are working on tiny crystalline structures, assembled from particles ten-billionths to ten-millionths of a meter small, whose most far-reaching application is to make “optical transistors” that might soon replace electronic transistors, the building blocks of the modern computer. The research combines Dr. Bevan’s expertise in advanced optical microscopy techniques and Dr. Ford’s expertise in the simulation and theoretical treatment of molecular and particle systems. The materials they study actually “self-assemble” from dispersions of nanoparticles suspended in water or some other liquid medium.

“Ultimately what we would like to do,” says Dr. Ford, “is drive these colloidal particles to assemble into desired crystalline structures. A good analogy from nature is the opal, where silica particles about 200 nanometers in size have self-assembled into a microscopic lattice in which the particles are locked into certain positions in space relative to each other.”

March 2010