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Department of Chemical and Petroleum EngineeringGao Research Group


Our Philosophy of Research:

Scientists dream about doing great things. Engineers do them.” —James A. Michener.

Our group's philosophy of research is to turn ideas into reality. As such, the research in our group is very application-oriented. The basis of our research rests on synthesis, fabrication, and assembly of nano- and micro-meter sized materials. However, our final goal is not only to make these materials, but to find innovative radical applications of these materials and to understand the fundamental mechanisms underlining these applications. Towards this goal, our research group has been working in four major areas:

  • superhydrophobic and superoleophobic surfaces,
  • nanotechnology-enabled biosensors, bioseperation and biomedical devices,
  • next generation solar cells,
  • surface engineering for water treatment processes.

Although these four areas are distinctively different from the application point of view, they all employ nanostructured materials, and they all require manipulation and understanding of surface chemical properties of the nanomaterials.

Current Research Projects

  • Icing and condensation at superhydrophobic surfaces (through collaboration with Prof. Jianzhong Wu at Univ. of California, Riverside)
  • Anti-icing superhydrophobic coatings
  • Solar cells based on ordered nanostructural materials
  • Continuous water-oil seperation devices
  • DNA sequencing and separation at a stretch (through collaboration with Prof. Jianzhong Wu's group at Univ. of California, Riverside)
  • Mutation screening based on mechanical properties of DNA molecules
  • Rapid tests for chlamydia and neglected tropical diseases (through collaboration with Prof. Abhay Vat, MD at Children's Hospital of UPMC)

Research Funding

We acknowledge research funding from the following sources:

  • National Science Foundation
  • National Institute of Health
  • American Chemical Society
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Private companies (including both large and small business partners) under non-disclosure agreement
  • Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, Univ. of Pittsburgh