UCLA NanoMeTeR Laboratory Research Activities


Our research interests arise from the fundamental societal need for more sustainable approaches to manage the world's critical water, energy, food, and human health demands. Many of these problems must be solved over the next generation.

In pursuit of solutions to these ‘grand challenges’, our research begins with a fundamental understanding of colloidal and interfacial phenomena, which includes:

  1. BulletMechanisms and models describing the interfacial transport phenomena that governs fluid, solute, and particle motion in flowing systems

  2. BulletMechanisms and models describing the intermolecular/interfacial forces that govern particle aggregation, deposition, and adhesion as well as polymer synthesis, dispersion, and precipitation

  3. BulletClassical colloidal characterization techniques for elucidating the physical-chemical properties of polymers, nanoparticles, natural colloids, and biological cells

  4. BulletClassical microscopic (TEM/SEM/AFM) and spectroscopic (EDAX, FTIR, XRD, XPS) techniques for characterizing morphology and chemistry of polymers, nanoparticles, natural colloids, and biological cells

  5. BulletAdvanced microscopic techniques for directly observing particle deposition onto engineered substrates or the kinetics of polymer film formation, in addition to direct measurement of interfacial forces

We apply these fundamentals to the exploration of three technology platforms:

Membrane materials and processes

  1. BulletFormation and characterization of polymeric membranes

  2. BulletTransport through membranes, modules, and systems

  3. BulletReverse osmosis membranes, modules, and processes

  4. BulletFiltration membranes, modules, and processes

  5. BulletForward osmosis membranes, modules, and processes

  6. BulletFundamental studies of membrane fouling, scaling and cleaning

Electrokinetic and electrochemical processes

  1. BulletElectrokinetic methods for characterizing polymeric membranes

  2. BulletElectrochemical oxidation, coagulation, and precipitation

  3. BulletElectro-filtration for high resolution membrane separations

Advanced materials and nanotechnology

  1. BulletSynthesis and characterization of metal and zeolite nanocrystals

  2. BulletSynthesis of nanocomposite membranes and coating films

  3. BulletMechanisms of nanoparticle toxicity and anti-microbial activity

Examples of the practical applications and processes that interest us and motivate our research include:

  1. BulletForward and reverse osmosis processes for ocean and brackish water desalination plus advanced purification of wastewater for reuse/recycle

  2. BulletAnti-fouling, anti-microbial and self-cleaning coating films for water treatment membranes and biomedical implants

  3. BulletAdvanced ultrafiltration membranes and modules for high-resolution protein purification, blood filtration/sterilization, and kidney dialysis

  4. BulletRemediation of oil and metal contaminated waters (e.g., industrial wastewaters, polluted aquifers, produced waters)

  5. BulletReverse electrodialysis and pressure retarded osmosis processes for salinity gradient energy production - producing clean, renewable energy from water

  6. BulletHighly adaptive, hybrid electrochemical processes for remediation of polluted waters and industrial wastewater treatment/resource reclamation

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