The scope of soft materials engineering encompasses rationally manipulating the configuration of particles via self-assembly methods in the creation of materials with unique properties to fabricating artificial biological membranes to understand fundamental cellular processes. With such breadth, progress in the field relies on an interdisciplinary approach to apply principles of physics, biology, materials science and chemical engineering to identify and solve current challenges in the field. These include 1) translating fundamental studies to systems with increased technological importance, for example moving from hard sphere colloids to hairy colloids that possess chemical functionality, 2) developing novel experimental methods to probe processes across a wide range of length and time scales, for example the diffusion of a single lipid molecule within a membrane to membrane budding and cell division, and 3) moving beyond microscopic self-assembly to the large-scale application of self-assembly principles to specific particle shapes and chemistries with particular bulk optical, mechanical or thermal properties in mind. I aim to start a research lab that excels at the interface of soft matter engineering- leveraging my diverse background to create a unique group addressing these challenges.
During my doctoral research, I made fundamental progress in the field of colloidal electrokinetics and applied that knowledge to create a new class of acoustic metamaterials. In this work, I constructed and validated a dielectric spectrometer to measure the electrokinetic properties of colloidal suspensions over a wide frequency range. Studies on concentrated colloidal suspensions helped explain the AC electric field-induced disorder-crystalline order transition. A modified AC electric field self-assembly scheme was applied to create ordered thin films of colloidal ellipsoids. The particle anisotropy and order translated to macroscale anisotropy in the materials acoustic properties in the hypersonic frequency regime. This finding is only the beginning of a nascent field in tuning the transport of phonons by rational organization of polymer colloids. While at Delaware, I helped establish two international research collaborations, was a leader in our graduate student group, and participated in the teaching fellows program. My postdoctoral research at ETH Zürich has built upon my soft matter expertise to include thin surfactant films and phospholipid bilayers. I am currently developing a route to millimeter scale, free-standing, planar phospholipid membranes that can be used for a variety of fundamental studies. This technique advances the state-of-the-art in bilayer fabrication and overcomes several limitations to existing technologies, therefore there is a tremendous opportunity for future research- from the fundamental (membrane elasticity and phase behavior) to the applied (protein pore formation and particle endocytosis). While my postdoctoral work will be the focus of my oral presentation at this meeting, this poster will highlight my research experiences and my vision for future research.
Postdoctoral Advisor: Prof. Jan Vermant, ETH Zürich
PhD Advisor: Prof. Eric M. Furst, University of Delaware
- Beltramo, P. J., Schneider, D., Fytas, G. and Furst, E. M., “Anisotropic hypersonic phonon propagation in films of aligned ellipsoids.” Phys. Rev. Lett., 113(20), 205503, (2014).
- Beltramo, P. J., Roa, R., Carrique, F. and Furst, E. M. “Dielectric spectroscopy of concentrated colloidal suspensions.” J. Colloid Interface Sci., 408(1), 54-58, (2013).
- Schneider, D., Beltramo, P. J., Mattarelli, M., Crespy, D., Montagna, M., Pfleiderer, P., Vermant, J., Furst, E. M., and Fytas, G. F. “Elongated Polystyrene Spheres as Building Blocks for Anisotropic Colloidal Crystals: A Particle Vibration Spectroscopy Study.” Soft Matter, 9, 9129-9136, (2013).
- Beltramo, P. J. and Furst, E. M. “Predicting the disorder-order transition of dielectrophoretic colloidal assembly with dielectric spectroscopy.” Electrophoresis, 34(7), 1000-1007, (2013).
- Beltramo, P. J. and Furst, E. M. “Transition from Dilute to Concentrated Electrokinetic Behavior in the Dielectric Spectra of a Colloidal Suspension.” Langmuir, 28(29), 10703- 10712, (2012).
- Beltramo, P. J. and Furst, E. M. “Dielectric spectroscopy of bidisperse colloidal suspensions.” J. Colloid Interface Sci., 380(1), 34-41, (2012).
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