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Gregory Opens New Soft Materials Lab

Progress in smart materials is hastening the day when your jacket may be smarter than your Blackberry. Richard V. Gregory, chair of the Old Dominion University Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, has launched a new laboratory on the Norfolk campus to promote his research in the smart soft materials we will be using someday soon.

Gregory announced in late April the establishment of ODU's Soft Material Thermal and Electrical Characterization Laboratory. The lab was made possible by a matching equipment grant from TA Instruments, which supplied the thermal characterization instrumentation, and help from the university's Office of Research. Other recently purchased equipment includes an ultra-violet, infrared, near-infrared spectrometer with reflectance capability. Some electrical and optical characterization equipment was supplied by Gregory from his former research laboratory at Clemson University, where he served as the director of the School of Materials Science and Engineering.

With more than 100 publications, 15 patents and several national and international awards for his work, Gregory is widely respected as a researcher in electroactive and photonic polymeric materials.

An article about organic lasers and optical fibers that he co-authored was selected as one of the best articles to appear during 2007 in Journal of Optics A: Pure and Applied Optics. Members of the journal's editorial board chose the article, titled "Elliptical Micro-Ring Organic Lasers," to appear in a special collection of their personal favorites in the category of "rapid communication." Other authors of the article are P. R. Korade, a former graduate student of Gregory's and John Ballato, a faculty member at Clemson.

Just before he moved from Clemson to ODU in 2003, Gregory was the subject of an article in The New York Times headlined, "What's Next: Fabrics Smart Enough to Change Colors and Keep You Dry." It explained the use of conductive fibers, through which electric current can flow to realign molecules and change a jacket's color or permeability. Even smarter materials may allow your jacket to display digital information or monitor your health.

Gregory's new lab houses state-of-the art thermal soft material characterization instruments for Dynamic Mechanical Analysis, Modulated and Linear Differential Scanning Calorimetry, Thermal Gravametric Analysis, and Cone and Plate Rheometer oscillatory shear measurements. Other instruments in the lab also can provide information on the viscoelastic properties of organic and inorganic polymeric film and fiber materials, as well as enable the formation and characterization of the electrical/electronic properties of organic electroactive and photonic polymers.

This article was posted on: April 30, 2008

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