Talk by Professor Mahesh K. Mahanthappa – Niels Bohr Institute - University of Copenhagen

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Talk by Professor Mahesh K. Mahanthappa

Aqueous Self-Assembly Behaviour of Gemini Dicarboxylate Surfactants

The hydration of small molecule amphiphiles with precisely defined amounts of water drives their supramolecular self-assembly into ordered lyotropic liquid crystals (LLCs) with distinct aqueous and hydrophobic nanodomains. LLC materials serve as useful water desalination and selective ion transporting media, templates for mesoporous inorganic materials syntheses, and platforms for studying transmembrane protein structure and function. This talk will describe the unusual aqueous lyotropic self-assembly behavior of small-molecule gemini surfactants into complex aqueous LLCs. We have recently demonstrated that the gemini architecture strongly favors the formation of technologically useful, triply periodic, multiply continuous morphologies such as the single and double gyroid structures. Through systematic variations in amphiphile structure, we demonstrate that this monodisperse molecular platform enables subtle tuning of interfacial curvature in these assemblies and enables access to a previously unknown tetracontinuous lyotropic network phase with unusual 3D-hexagonal symmetry. Based on this molecular design principle, I will also describe a method for producing mechanically robust nanoporous media with well-defined pore geometries, pore diameters, and pore functionalities with potential applications in selective molecular filtrations and selective ion transporting membranes for energy applications.



A native of Boulder, Colorado, Mahesh K. Mahanthappa received his B.A. in Chemistry and Mathematics at the University of Colorado in 1997. As a Hertz Fellow at Stanford University, Mahesh studied the mechanisms of half-metallocene olefin polymerization catalysts under the supervision of Professor Robert M. Waymouth. Upon completion of his Ph.D. in 2003, Mahesh moved to a postdoctoral position at the University of Minnesota to work with Professors Frank S. Bates and Marc A. Hillmyer on aspects of block copolymer phase behavior and mechanical properties of polyolefin multiblock copolymers. Professor Mahanthappa joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin–Madison Department of Chemistry in 2006 and was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor in 2012. The Mahanthappa group leverages chemical synthesis and physical materials characterization to identify new methods for manipulating block copolymer and lyotropic liquid crystal self-assembly into unique morphologies that manifest unusual bulk properties. Specific targets of interest include the development of degradable block copolymers and surfactants, electrochemically stable single-ion conductors for battery applications, and advanced molecular filtrations membranes. He has received an NSF CAREER Award (2008-2013), a 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award, the Emil H. Steiger Distinguished Teaching Award and the James Taylor Teaching Award at UW-Madison, and the 2013 American Physical Society Dillon Medal in Polymer Physics.

Talk by Mahesh K. Mahanthappa