SFU Canada Research Chairs Seminar Series: "Controlling the Surfaces of Matter"

Thursday, March 24, 2011
11:30 - 12:30

Dr. Byron Gates
Canada Research Chair in Surface Chemistry, Department of Chemistry


We aim to understand the scale to which the surface chemistry of materials can be uniformly manipulated and the robustness of these alterations. Of particular importance is our ability to alter the surface chemistry of materials on the nanoscale. Developments in nanotechnology have opened the doors to our ability to manipulate and design materials on a scale approaching that of a single atom. Harnessing these achievements requires an ability to match this level of design with molecular-scale control over the surface chemistry of nanomaterials. One approach is to coat the surfaces of these materials through the selective assembly and adhesion of organic molecules. Such surface modifications can modify the chemical and physical properties of a material without significantly changing its appearance or dimensions. We are pursuing the use of these single-molecule thick coatings for a diverse range of applications that include remotely controlled release of molecules for stimulating biological systems, and improved techniques for incorporating nanoscale electrical and optical materials into devices. How durable are single-molecule thick coatings? How do the observed properties correlate with non-uniformities in the assembled films? This presentation will introduce the tools and techniques we are developing to evaluate the homogeneity and durability of these surface modifications, how we are improving their stability, and how we are utilizing these molecular-scale coatings to harness the advantages of nanoscale materials.

About the Speaker

A Tier II Canada Research Chair in Surface Chemistry at Simon Fraser University, Byron Gates has built a research program to investigate the surfaces of materials, which includes the interface between nanoscale materials and their surrounding environment. Byron is currently working to develop new approaches to bio-sensing, bio-imaging, self-assembly, and nanofabrication. To achieve these goals, he is developing new synthetic strategies to nanostructures, techniques to investigate the specific surface chemistry of these structures, and new methods to position these structures into well-defined patterns.

Byron received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington while working with Professor Younan Xia on new routes to structured optical materials, such as photonic crystals. He studied the limits of soft lithography while working as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University with Professor George M. Whitesides before joining the faculty at Simon Fraser University where he is an Associate Professor of Chemistry and Director of Nanofabrication Facilities in 4D LABS at SFU.