Ziegler Awarded Grant to Measure the Surface Energy of Metals through Structure-Property Analysis of Electrodeposition Instabilities

Kirk J. Ziegler, Ph.D.

Kirk J. Ziegler, Ph.D., the Dow Chemical Company Foundation Professor and Associate Chair for Graduate Studies at the University of Florida Department of Chemical Engineering (UF CHE) is leading a $581,500 grant from the National Science Foundation titled: Measuring the Surface Energy of Metals through Structure-Property Analysis of Electrodeposition Instabilities.

“Surface energy is one of the most fundamental and important thermophysical properties of metal surfaces because it has a strong influence on the mechanical, electrical, catalytic, and morphological characteristics of the solid,” Dr. Ziegler said. “Despite its importance, the ability to directly measure the surface energy of metals has eluded researchers for several decades. This physical property is important to understanding the interaction of molecules with these surfaces. Because the method can be applied to numerous metal surfaces, this work will have a positive impact on preventing the corrosion of metal piping, improving the performance of catalysts, controlling the size and shape of crystals, and developing new additive-manufacturing processes.”

In this project Dr. Ziegler is collaborating with Ranga Narayanan, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor and William P. and Tracy Cirioli Term Professor in UF ChE to develop the structure-property relationships that enable the direct measurement of the surface energy of solid metals near ambient temperature. The approach is based on well-defined patterns that form on the cathode during the electrodeposition of metals in microfluidic channels. 

The project also includes K-12 outreach with local schools, which incorporates in-class demonstrations, summer research programs, and engineering fairs.

Dr. Ziegler’s research group focuses on developing a fundamental understanding of interfaces in nanoscale systems, which can have far-reaching implications to various fields of nanotechnology. Their goal is to manipulate interfaces to dictate the nanostructures that are fabricated and to control reactions and transport at the surface of the nanostructures. Once the interfaces can be controlled and manipulated, it is possible to fabricate nanomaterials with novel functionality, improving their integration and performance in several applications.