The Institute for Molcular Engineering
The University of Chicago
Emerging Insights into Directed Assembly: Taking Examples fromNature to Design Synthetic Processes
This presentation will review recent work from the de Pablo Group that explains how directed assembly of polymeric materials and liquid crystals can be used to create functional thin ﬁlms for applications in separations, nanofabrication, sensors and photonic materials. Building on discoveries from the biophysics literature, de Pablo will then discuss how nature has evolved to direct the assembly of nucleic acids into intricate, fully three-dimensional macroscopic functional materials that are not only active, but also responsive to external cues. He will discuss how principles from polymer physics serve to explain those assemblies, and how one might design a new generation of synthetic systems that incorporate bio-inspired designs by relying on concepts from evolutionary optimization and machine learning.
Professor Juan de Pablo earned his BChE from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and his PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. He conducted postdoctoral research at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich and joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1992, where he was the Howard Curler Distinguished Professor and the Hilldale Professor of Chemical Engineering before joining the Institute for Molecular Engineering in 2012. de Pablo received the DuPont Medal for Excellence in Nutrition and Health Sciences in 2016, the Intel Patterning Science Award in 2015, and the Charles Stine Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in 2011. He currently chairs the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Advisory Committee of the National Science Foundation, and the Committee on Condensed Matter and Materials Research at the National Research Council. He is the founding editor of Molecular Systems Design and Engineering, and co-director of the new Center for Hierarchical Materials Design. de Pablo was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering in 2016 for “design of macromolecular products and processes via scientiﬁc computation.”