Engineering multi-phase nanodroplets for nanoparticle templating and biotechnology

Vann Ness Award Lecture
Matthew Helgeson
Associate Professor
Department of Chemical Engineering, University of California, Santa Barbara
Ricketts 211, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Thu, October 04, 2018 at 9:15 AM
Refreshments will be served one half hour prior to the lecture.


Emulsions have long been a foundational technology for the solution-phase synthesis of functional particles and materials. More recently, methods to create emulsions with multi-phase droplet structure have opened up an entire new design space of complex droplets and particles with potential advantages for foods, consumer products, and medicine. These applications have yet to be realized due to significant challenges with current emulsification methods for multi-phase droplets, which are mostly limited to large sizes, poor stability and low throughput. Nanoemulsions – metastable suspensions of nanoscale droplets – overcome these limitations through their scalable processing and metastability. However, their engineering is complicated by emergent behavior when droplet sizes are driven to the nanoscale. In this seminar, I will summarize our recent efforts to understand this behavior, and exploit it for the creation of complex nanodroplets and nanoparticles using relatively simple design principles. In particular, we have demonstrated the synthesis of novel nanogel particles with independent control of particle size, internal composition, and mechanical properties that provide unique opportunities for nanoencapsulation and nanomedicine. As a demonstration of their utility, we show how nanoemulsion-templated complex nanogels can be used for a number of fundamental studies and functions in nanobiotechnology.

The Van Ness Award is made in recognition of the achievements of the late H.C. Van Ness, Institute Professor Emeritus at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. It is presented annually to honor a chemical engineer who has made seminal contributions to the profession. The Van Ness Award Lecture Series is sponsored by a generous endowment from Edward ’62 and Nancy Feltham.

Matthew Helgeson

Matt Helgeson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at UC Santa Barbara, where he is also a faculty member and IRG co-leader of the Materials Research Laboratory (an NSF MRSEC). He received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in 2004, and his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Delaware in 2009. He performed postdoctoral research at MIT before joining the faculty at UCSB. Prof. Helgeson’s research focuses on designing and processing complex fluids with well-specified nanostructure, especially those involving colloids in structured liquids. Prof. Helgeson’s research has been recognized with a number of awards, including Early Career Awards from both the National Science Foundation (2013) and Department of Energy (2015), a Hellman Foundation Faculty Fellowship (2016), and both the Victor K. LaMer Award (2011) and Unilever Award (2016) from the American Chemical Society.