Seminar by Rob Macfarlane

Programmable Self-Assembly with Polymers and Particles




In this talk, we will discuss the development of two unique systems that can be used to construct self-assembled materials with novel and useful physical properties, as well as provide means to programmably and predictably assemble nanomaterials by design.

In the first, brush block copolymers are utilized to generate rapidly self-assembled 1-D photonic crystals that reflect light with band gaps tunable from 300-1400 nm. The photonic band gap can be controlled either by varying the molecular weight of the brush polymer or by adding in homopolymers to swell the lamellar arrays, providing a simple means of generating nanostructured materials with emergent photonic properties.

In the second, DNA is utilized as a molecular synthon to generate nanoparticle superlattices where lattice structure can be predicted a priori. The programmable nature of DNA allows for facile control over both nanoparticle bond length and strength, as well as nanoparticle bond selectivity. This talk will elucidate the design rules that have now been established to enable the synthesis of superlattices with independently controllable lattice parameters, nanoparticle sizes, and crystallographic symmetries.


Rob Macfarlane was born and raised in Alaska, and obtained his BA in biochemistry from Willamette University in Oregon, where he was both a National Merit Scholar and a Goldwater scholar. He obtained his PhD working in the lab of Chad Mirkin at Northwestern, where his research focused on the development of a series of design rules for the DNA-programmed assembly of nanoparticles. During his time at NU, Rob was a recipient of the Ryan Fellowship for nanotechnology researchers, an International Institute of Nanotechnology Outstanding Research Award, and a Materials Research Society Gold Graduate Student Award. Upon graduating from NU in 2013, he was awarded a Kavli Nanoscience Institute post-doctoral fellowship, and worked in the labs of Robert Grubbs and Harry Atwater at CalTech. His research has focused on the development of self-assembling photonic crystals using brush block copolymer architectures.

Seminar Date