Jeffrey Chen, of Chemistry, and Sarah Battat, of Physics, co-winners of the PRISM Senior Thesis Award.
Jeffrey’s senior thesis entitled “Controlling the Surface Reactivity of a Central Nervous System Repair Hydrogel” explores in-depth properties of OPF and finds alternative methods to faithfully translate the functional bilayer to this new material. The work in this thesis develops a solution deposition method to create the metal interface, on which a SAMP layer was grown. Using Octadecylphosphonic acid (ODPA) as proof of concept, a TiO2 / ODPA bilayer was constructed on the surface of hydrated OPF and its properties and interfacial stability were characterized and studied through ATR-FTIR spectroscopy and contact angle goniometry. Optimizing conditions for manufacturing this TiO2 / ODPA modification gave rise to a hydrophobic and even water repellent hydrogel surface. The bilayer ensemble was found to be stable under typical in vitro biological conditions. Switching from ODPA to 1,12-BPA changed the hydrophobic surface to become cell-adhesive. His advisor, Prof. Jeffrey Schwartz writes, “I am impressed immensely by Jeff and with his performance. He worked incredibly hard, was always in the lab, and always tried to come up with new ways to address his problem. Jeff has been an excellent group member and I recommend him enthusiastically.)
Sarah’s senior thesis “Transport of Colloidal Particles by Diffusiophoresis” investigates various phenomena related to the motion of colloidal particles in dead-end pores via diffusiophoresis. In broad terms, diffusiophoresis is the motion of particles along solute concentration gradients. The study of diffusiophoresis posits many interesting physics-related questions. This project consists of two components – the use of ‘pulsed’ diffusiophoresis to remove colloidal particles from dead-end pores and the study of the motion of colloidal particles along/across streamlines via diffusiophoresis in dead-end pore geometries. Her advisor, Prof. Howard Stone, writes “Sarah does everything well and challenges herself with publication quality research and graduate courses. She is very smart, mature and responsible towards her education and has great potential for future success. She is a scholar at heart.” After graduation, Sarah will be pursuing a PhD in Applied Physics at Harvard.