Research in the Fairbrother group involves aspects of environmental, analytical, physical and materials science and is focused on (i) understanding the mechanisms of depositing nanostructures, and (ii) exploring the environmental implications and applications of nanomaterials.
Understanding Mechanisms of Depositing Nanostructures: One area of active research in our group is to develop a molecular level understanding of technologically important deposition processes are being used to create nanostructures. As part of this effort we are currently collaborating with researchers at the University of Florida and the University of Iceland to identify the surface chemistry and physics associated with the focused electron beam induced deposition (FEBID) of metallic nanostructures using organometallic precursors.
Environmental Implications and Applications of Nanomaterials: We have a wide array of projects focused on exploring the environmental implications as well as the potential applications of engineered nanomaterials, particularly carbon nanotubes. Examples include: (1) exploring the release rates of carbon nanotubes and quantum dots from polymer nanocomposites, (2) photochemistry of carbon based nanomaterials, including carbon nanotubes, graphene and carbon dots, (3) impact of heteroatoms on the flame retarding properties of carbon nanotubes, (4) effect of carbon nanotube incorporation on biofilm formation and biodegradation properties of polymers. Many of these projects are highly collaborative and involve significant interactions with the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering (DoGEE) at Johns Hopkins, researchers in the EPA funded center on the Life Cycle of Nanomaterials (LCNano), and the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology (CSN) funded by the National Science Foundation.
Experimental Approach: In all of our studies we use a wide array of experimental techniques, including Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS), Mass Spectrometry, Infrared Spectroscopy (IR) and UV-Vis Spectroscopy. We have also an array of electron spectroscopies, particularly Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) for materials characterization.
The Fairbrother lab also maintains and operates the Johns Hopkins University surface analytical laboratories which are available for use by researchers both within and outside the university.