Nicholas L. Abbott


Location: 140 DeBartolo Hall


Dr. Nicholas L. Abbott, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"New Insights into Hydrophobic Interactions Encoded by Chemical Nanopatterns"

Wednesday, April 18 12:40 PM, 140 DeBartolo Hall

Abstract: Substantial progress has been made during the past decade towards understanding hydrophobic interactions in simple model systems, but in most biological and technological contexts, non-polar domains are found in close proximity to polar and charged functional groups. We are using conformationally-stable β-amino acid oligomers, and single-molecule force measurements to elucidate hydrophobic interactions encoded by specific chemical nanopatterns. These measurements reveal, for example, that ions immobilized adjacent to non-polar domains can substantially increase or decrease the strength of hydrophobic adhesion, with the effect strongly dependent on the specific ion type. This understanding is providing a fresh starting point for molecular design in aqueous environments in a broad range of contexts.

Nicholas Abbott received a Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical Engineering) from University of Adelaide, Australia in 1985, and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1991. He was a postdoctoral fellow in the Chemistry Department of Harvard University from 1991-1993. His initial academic appointment was at University of California-Davis. He moved to the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1998 and served as Chairman of the department from 2009 to 2012. He is currently the Director of the Wisconsin Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, and the Sobota Professor and Hilldale Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering. He is a Fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Science and a Member of the US National Academy of Engineering. He currently serves as Co-Editor-in-Chief of Current Opinion in Colloid and Interface Science. Learn more about his research here: