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Clarkson University Chemistry Researcher Foresees Many Options for New Discovery

When you move from a scientific concert to its real-world application, not all the possibilities are likely to be affordable, cautions Clarkson University Professor Sergiy Minko, the Egon Matijevic Chair of Chemistry. Nonetheless, he has high expectations for a process that allows material to become wet as usual, or to repel all liquids.

Clarkson University Professor Sergiy Minko, the Egon Matijevic Chair of ChemistryThese dual, opposing abilities of material are achieved by using a magnetic field. Something that ordinarily would soak up something wet can be transformed so that no liquid -- water, oil or chemicals -- can dampen it.

As an everyday perk, this means guaranteed stain prevention for clothing. On a more serious level, the military can use the process to make protective clothing in case of chemical warfare. For commercial uses, this development can assure smudge-free touch-screen surfaces and prevent leaks when transporting liquids, to name a few possible applications.

“Major work on this development was done at Clarkson and at Clemson University with Professors Luzinov and Kornev. A graduate student here, Anton Grigoryev, and a research professor, Ihor Tokarev, assisted me," says Minko. "We have a couple of papers in the Journal of the American Chemical Society and Advanced Functional Materials just published."

“This material can engineer in several directions and each one should be further developed," adds Minko. "For example, it can be used in the transport of liquid such as gasoline or oil. It also can be used in protective clothing, such as a uniform when working with biological agents, spores and chemicals. Another use can be for miniaturized optical devices and sensors. When you touch the screen of a flat-screen glass or cell phone, you always leave fingerprints that eventually degrade the surface. With this, we create a more robust material.”

Minko work is under the auspices of Clarkson’s Center for Advanced Materials Processing (CAMP). Its mandate is to develop innovations in advanced materials processing and to transfer this technology to business and industry. On any given day, Minko has a number of projects underway, involving fine particles, polymer materials, bio materials and more.

He and his colleagues teamed up for another related project that likely has important medical applications. Teams from both universities developed “smart” liquids that contain nanoparticles that can be locked into place with a magnetic field.
These particles stay locked even after the magnetic field is turned off or removed. This could be a method to fight cancer, by delivering liquid medicine to tumors, and then destroying them while they are locked in place.

A material chemist and scientist, Minko is enthusiastic about his research, saying, “Things we even cannot imagine often find interesting applications we didn’t think about before. The concepts stimulate new thinking.”

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

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