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[Lecture] Frugal Science: Exploring Sub-Nanometer Scales using Droplets
May. 26, 2023

Speaker: Martin Thuo, North Carolina state University

Time: 20:00-21:30 p.m., May 26, 2023, GMT+8

Venue: iCANX platform (Scan the QR code to register)


Liquids on surfaces, either as droplets or adsorbed films, embody both complexity and simplicity and, are erroneously portrayed as information poor or worse as an inconvenience. Thermodynamically, however, droplets capture surface force balance hence are a fascinating tool in understanding sub-nanometer surface structures. This talk will highlight how a simple relation of Gibbs free energy between a droplet and a self-assembled monolayer can be used to reveal gaps in our understanding of these ‘simple’ systems.

From the original work by Jacob Sagiv, the Whitesides-Porter discrepancy, to understanding superhydrophobic surfaces, we will explore the chemistry, challenges, and opportunities for new advances. Understanding the free energy minimized state of a droplet, we reveal complex interactions at the single carbon-carbon bond level and related conformational dynamics at the interface. Complimentary studies through surface sensitive sum-frequency generation and molecular electronics lead to strong indication that droplets are information rich under felicitous choice of conditions. This is an ultimate demonstration of frugal nanoscience!

Besides their use as probes, liquid droplets are also good synthons for nanomaterials synthesis. This will be highlighted through a discussion on liquid-derived synthons for graphene-coated metal oxides. Utilizing droplets, we synthesize materials that are otherwise challenging to make.


Martin Thuo is a Professor in the Departments of materials science & engineering at North Carolina state University and a co-host of the ICANX talks. Prior to NCSU, he was the Schafer professor at Iowa State University. He was also a Mary-Fieser (2009-2011) and NSEC (2011-2013) post-doctoral Fellow at Harvard University. He is the recipient of several awards including the ACS nano rising star, MSE excellence in research award, Lynn-Anderson research excellence award, Black & Veatch faculty fellowship, among others. His research interests encompass the general theme of frugal innovation through surface and interface thermodynamics.

Source: iCANX