Research Overview

Synthetic polymers are usually heterogeneous systems composed of molecules with different molecular weight and chemical structure. The polydispersity of polymer molecules, which influences both the processing and the performance of polymer materials. is intrinsically generated from the heterogeneity in polymerization kinetics among individual polymer molecules during the synthesis process.

Our research will be focused on the studies of polymerization reactions and polymer physical properties using Magnetic Tweezers and Single-molecule Localization Microscopy, aiming to (1) explore the origin of the heterogeneity in polymerization kinetics and (2) establish the structure-property relationship of polymer materials on molecular level.

Our research interests include, but not limited to:

  • Real-time visualization of living polymerization reactions at single molecule level

  • Characterization of single chain physical properties

  • Inter-chain interactions and single-chain behaviors in bulk materials

  • Polymer-surface interactions

Magnetic Tweezers (MT)

MT uses external magnetic field to exert stretching forces onto a single polymer chain tethered between the surface and the magnetic particle. The physical properties of the polymer chains can be extracted, such as the contour length and bending stiffness.


Single-molecule Localization Microscopy (SMLM)

SMFM captures the fluorescent signals from single fluorescent objects under laser excitation. The objects could be organic dyes, fluorescent proteins, nanoparticles or polymers. The location of the objects can be determined within a range of tens of nanometers.