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ONR funds study of nanoscale wetting dynamics of superhydrophobic surfaces at Stevens

With a fleet of ships and aircraft that work as hard as the sailors, pilots, and crew that operate them, the US Navy spends approximately $10-12 billion every year to fight corrosion on the hulls and bodies of these important vehicles. To support Office of Naval Research (ONR) development of hydrodynamically efficient and environmentally non-toxic anti-corrosion materials, Dr. Chang-Hwan Choi, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology, researches nanotechnology with multifunctional superhydrophobic properties that repel water and prevent corrosion in robust and durable ways. Dr. Choi's work has recently been awarded a Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) grant that backs this work.

"This award recognizes Stevens contributions to the world of multi-scale engineering in support of government defense initiatives. We are proud and honored to see the ever-growing number of faculty distinctions within the University," says Dr. Constantin Chassapis, Department Director of Mechanical Engineering and Deputy Dean for the School of Engineering and Science.

Dr. Choi's 2011 DURIP grant funds an environmental scanning electron microscope (ESEM) that will enhance his study of the functionalities of novel prototypes of nanostructured materials. The ESEM will allow his lab to study and observe the wetting dynamics of waterphenomena such as condensation and evaporationon nano-patterned superhydrophobic surfaces.

ONR has already made long-term investments in Dr. Choi's superhydrophic surface research, including naming him to the prestigious Young Investigator Program. In 2010, he also received a DURIP grant to fund a state-of-the-art thin film deposition system. This instrumentation allows Dr. Choi to deposit layers of light metals such as aluminum, which is commonly used in naval applications, with engineered nanocharacteristics that create a water-repelling surface.

The capability of in-situ measurement of wetting dynamics via the ESEM will support many new experiment opportunities for faculty and students throughout Stevens and enable collaborations with industry and other universities for a variety of research topics in engineering, physics, chemistry, and biology. In addition to research benefits, this instrumentation grant will also support educational initiatives through a new cross-disciplinary PhD concentration in Nanotechnology and the Nanotechnology Graduate Program.

As Director of the Nano and Microfluidics Laboratory at Stevens, Dr. Choi oversees international research collaborations to develop novel nanoscale materials with useful properties for a variety of applications in manufacturing, energy, and defense. Research projects in the lab are currently supported by the National Science Foundation, US Department of Energy, US Army, US Navy, and DARPA.

Contact: Christine del Rosario
Stevens Institute of Technology

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