Project Info

Inorganic 2D material interactions with organic membranes

Joseph Samaniuk

Project Goals and Description:

Organic membranes such as lipid bilayers perform complex functions in biology that derive in part from changes in membrane structure. Synthesizing organic membranes with inorganic particle inclusions has been of widespread scientific interest in many different fields, from materials science to traditional biology. We now understand that important structure changes in membranes occur at multiple length scales simultaneously, from microns to nanometers, and that micron-size particles in membranes do alter the surrounding membrane microstructure. Although this area of research is exciting, a challenge to progress are the experimental hurdles associated with visualizing membrane structure at multiple length scales simultaneously. Two techniques commonly used individually to experimentally observe membrane structure in Langmuir troughs are Brewster Angle Microscopy (BAM), and epifluorescence microscopy. The former generally has micrometer resolution, the latter has sub-micrometer resolution, and though it can be powerful to use both, the measurements cannot generally be performed simultaneously due to large equipment sizes and custom Langmuir troughs required for each device. In this work we will combine BAM and epifluorescence microscopy with the miniaturized radial Langmuir trough recently developed in our lab 1,2 to understand how the 2D particles, such as molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) and graphene, influence structure in organic membranes, such as monolayers of the lung surfactant dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC) at fluid-fluid interfaces 3.

More Information:

Grand Challenge: Engineer the tools of scientific discovery.
  1. Kale, S.K., A.J. Cope, D.M. Goggin, J.R. Samaniuk, “A miniaturized radial Langmuir trough for simultaneous dilatational deformation and interfacial microscopy,” Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 582, 1085-1098, 2020.
  2. Fajardo-Rojas, F., D. Pradilla, O.A. Alvarez Solano, J.R. Samaniuk, “Probing interfacial structure and dynamics of model and natural asphaltenes at fluid-fluid interfaces,” Langmuir, 36 (27), 7965-7979, 2020
  3. Goggin, D.M., H. Zhang, E.M. Miller, J.R. Samaniuk, "Interference provides clarity: Direct observation of 2D materials at fluid-fluid interfaces," ACS Nano, 14 (1), 777-790,

Primary Contacts:

Joseph Samaniuk,

Student Preparation


No background knowledge in this area or experience in performing research is needed, but the individual who takes on this project must be self-motivated and interested in learning about and performing experimental work. They must be willing to work with senior-level undergraduate students and graduate students who already work within this research area.




You will gain hands-on laboratory skills and experience working in an experimental laboratory environment. You also develop a knowledge of the relevant forces in colloid and interface science, and an understanding of why this research is industrially and scientifically important.


The student will attend our weekly laboratory group meetings, and also meet with the professor and one of the graduate students on a weekly basis.


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