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Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory
208 North Wright Street Urbana, Illinois 61801


Office hours 8:30a - 5:00p


Phone: 217-333-3097
Fax: 217-244-6375


Charles F. Zukoski

Charles F. Zukoski

Ph.D., Princeton University, 1985

Research Statement:
Suspensions of small (0.05-10 micrometers) particles are commonly used in materials processing operations where rapid solids transport and large surface areas are required. These colloidal particles have applications in a wide range of fields including drilling muds, paints, cements, emulsions, and ceramics. Despite their diverse forms, the properties of these suspensions are linked by a common underlying physical chemistry. The research carried out by my group concentrates on understanding the relationships between surface physical chemistry and the material properties of colloidal suspensions. Particular attention is paid to methods of manipulating interparticle forces to alter particle and suspension properties.

Currently we are studying the properties of saturated and partially saturated granular materials. Issues of significance are how particle interactions control the microstructure within sheared and compacting slurries and how these forces are manifested in crack formation in drying slurries. These problems arise in diverse applications such as ceramic fabrication, production of photonic band gap materials, and coatings on paper used for inkjet printing. How stress develops and is propagated in stable and aggregated suspensions and the long-range effects of container walls in controlling stress transfer are questions we investigate.

In a second series of problems, we are concerned with phase behavior of nanoparticle suspensions. Altering the strength of particle interactions and their concentration results in fluid/fluid, fluid/solid, and gel transitions. Each of these transitions has its applications. We are studying the role of the strength and range of the particle interaction potential in controlling which transition takes place. One application of these ideas lies in the formation of responsive fluids where prominently sensitive polymers are used to alter the state of the suspension. A second application is understanding the crystallization of globular macromolecules of biological significance. Here we are developing methods of rapidly locating solution conditions that give rise to protein or RNA crystals. This research leads us into detailed studies of how to characterize the strength of nanoparticle interactions on samples containing a few microliters and to developing microfluidic devices where rapid solution screens can be carried out on small amounts of material. We investigate how the formation of x-ray quality crystals is influenced by the strength of interactions and how additives alter rates of nucleation and growth at a fixed supersaturation.
Research Interests:
Colloid and Interfacial Science
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Honors, Recognition, and Outstanding Achievements:

  • Member, National Academy of Engineering, Chemical Engineering, 2007
  • Alpha Chi Sigma Award, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, 2002
  • Richard H. Wilhelm Lecturer, Princeton University, 2001
  • William H. and Janet Lycan Professor, University of Illinois, UC, 2000
  • Ralph K. Iler Award, Chemistry of Colloidal Materials, American Chemical Society, 1997
  • Publication Award, Society of Rheology, 1996
  • Moulton Medal, Institution of Chemical Engineers, 1996
  • Ernest W. Thiele Lecturer, University of Notre Dame, 1994
  • University Scholar, University of Illinois, UC, 1994
  • Robert W. Vaughan Lectureship, California Institute of Technology, 1993
  • Everitt Award for Teaching Excellence, College of Engineering, University of Illinois, UC, 1992
  • Fulbright Scholar, Department of Applied Mathematics, University of Melbourne, 1992
  • Presidential Young Investigator Award, National Science Foundation, 1986