Research Focus on Dr. Morgan Stefik
Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of South Carolina

Polymer micelle response to nanoparticle stimuli

Dr. Morgan Stefik is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of South Carolina. He received his PhD from Cornell University in 2010 then joined École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Chem. as a Postdoctoral Fellow. In 2014 he joined UofSC as an assistant professor. In 2018, Dr. Stefik received the prestigious NSF CAREER Award.

Dr. Stefik is a contributing faculty member to Thrust 2: Stimuli-Responsive Polymeric Materials of the MADE in SC NSF Track-1 project. The overall challenge of Thrust 2 is to develop new generations of dynamic materials that can respond and adapt to external stimuli, leading to new knowledge and technological advances. Thrust 2 is developing sensing and self-healing polymeric materials that respond to environmental stimuli. Dr. Stefik is very active in the field of block polymers and self-assembly.

This project aims to enable the synthesis of tailored composite nanomaterial interfaces. Self-assembly strategies are very limited for the synthesis of composite materials where random mixtures;are generally produced without independent control. Here we are developing a novel responsive block polymer micelle that will enable tailored composite interfaces. In this project, we are integrating experimental and simulation to understand the response of block polymer micelles to nanoparticle stimuli as a function of varied;corona block chemistries.Experimental activities to date have resolved a challenging synthesis of an amphiphilic block polymer with modular corona block chemistry that enables tailored interaction strength subsequent nanoparticles. The activities have spanned from custom monomer synthesis through to successful synthesis of the target block polymer family. We have demonstrated recently that the resulting block polymers self-assemble into micelles, supporting their continued development that will integrate a fully tunable interaction with nanoparticles. Soon this granular functionalization chemistry will be followed with measurements of nanoparticle interactions.


October 2020