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Department of Energy Program Provides Villanova Professor and Students with Research Opportunity

Dr. Bo Li

This summer, Dr. Bo Li, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of Villanova University’s Hybrid Nano-Architectures and Advanced Manufacturing Lab, was selected for the Department of Energy Visiting Faculty Program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, TN. The 10-week program provides faculty and their students with financial support as well as access to high-end facilities to conduct research in DOE’s areas of interest.

Accompanied by both his graduate student, Dong Zhou, a fourth year PhD candidate, as well as Chemical and Biological Engineering junior Nicholas Yoo, Dr. Li’s research was focused on probing the interaction between atomic structures of two-dimensional materials (2DMs) and polymer chains. He explains, “By utilizing a new nanomaterial platform, 2DMs, in combination with a highly controlled solution-based polymer assembly process, we studied how the atomic structures of 2DMs initiate, stop or guide the assembly of polymer chains.” The outcomes of this research have applications in high-performance composites and flexible sensors for electronics.

In addition, Dr. Li won a competitive user program offered by the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences (CNMS) at ORNL, which will provide him and Zhou with access to major CNMS equipment, including a scanning transmission electron microscope, transmission electron microscope, and other advanced characterization tools through July 2020.

The Department of Energy Visiting Faculty Program, which is open to U.S. citizens as well as lawful permanent residents, seeks to increase the research competitiveness of faculty members and their students at institutions historically underrepresented in the research community in order to expand the workforce vital to DOE’s mission. “It was an opportunity that I encourage many of my Villanova colleagues to pursue,” says Dr. Li.