In collaboration with the Cranston and MacLachlan labs, which are focused on chemistry and materials engineering of nanocellulose, Dr. Vignolini hopes to define new strategies to reproduce and enhance the optical properties observed in the natural system exploiting natural biopolymers. Together, the researchers aim to produce new bio-based nanoparticles/nanofibres with novel surface chemistry and study their self-assembly. They want to develop new water-based fabrication routes towards fully light-absorbing or reflecting (i.e. the blackest black and the whitest white) materials as well as enhanced coloured surfaces and multi-domain/multi-coloured films that mimic, for example, opals. These materials may find widespread application in decorative coatings, sensors, optoelectronics, energy production, security paper/packaging, and textiles, to name just a few.
Prof. MacLachlan’s research team develops new organic and inorganic molecules and materials with interesting properties that may find applications in electronics, photonics, catalysis, and other areas. The team develops diverse materials – solid-state structures, polymers, gels, glasses, liquid crystals, etc. – to address interesting scientific and engineering problems. Some of their projects are aimed a combating environmental problems or improving alternative energy applications, such as solar energy conversion and hydrogen fuel cells.
Prof. Maclachlan and his team create new molecules and materials, and study them by a large variety of techniques – electron microscopy, thermal analysis, NMR spectroscopy, IR / Raman spectroscopy, UV-vis / fluorescence spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, light scattering, X-ray crystallography, gas adsorption, calorimetry, polarizing optical microscopy, circular dichroism spectroscopy, electrochemistry, etc. They are also part of an innovative training program in nanomaterials at UBC, NanoMat.