Sergei Sheiko

Sergei Sheiko

George A. Bush, Jr. Distinguished Professor

   Caudill Laboratories 157
  Group Website
  Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

Polymer Materials, Molecular Fluidics, and Atomic Force Microscopy

Research Synopsis

Materials science strives for intelligent polymer materials that are able to sense, process, and response to impacts from the surrounding environment. The range of applications ranges from drug delivery and microelectronics to oil recovery and climate change.

Research Image

Within this broad area of research, we are particularly interested in the design and physical properties of interactive macromolecules and molecular assemblies. We want to develop molecular systems that would enable lithography on sub-50 nm length scales, activation of specific chemical bonds within large macromolecules, and enhancement of the acoustic signal for oil detection. We also intend to develop a new direction in chemistry, wherein chemical bonds are activated by mechanical tension intrinsically generated inside macromolecules, which mimics functioning principles of life objects. Unlike traditional mechanochemistry, our strategy does not require external fields and devices, yet allows accurate control of tension in a broad range from 1 pN to 10 nN.

The studied systems include monomolecular layers, single macromolecules, molecular brushes, block-copolymer micelles, and emulsions. We are using scanning force microscopy, SFM, light scattering, fluorescence optical microscopy, Langmuir-Boldget and contact angle techniques to investigate molecular properties both in solution and at interfaces. One of our strengths is the ability to image individual molecules and in-situ monitor their conformation and motion on surfaces.

Professional Background

Fellow, American Physical Society, 2010, Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2001-present, Habilitation - University of Ulm, Germany, 2001, Postdoctoral Fellow - University of Twente, The Netherlands, 1991-1993, PhD - Institute of Chemical Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 1991, BS - Moscow Physico-Technical Institute, 1986.

Research Group

News & Publications

The kinetics of grafting-through polymerization of PDMS11MA macromonomers was studied to establish correlations between reversible first-order kinetic trends and network mechanical properties. By varying the reaction conditions, including the initial monomer concentration, targeted degree of polymerization, and solvent, the syntheses of macroinitiators and chain extensions were optimized with improved chain-end fidelity while maintaining a high yield and provided elastomers with consistent desired mechanical properties.


New thermoresponsive graft copolymers with an aromatic polyester backbone and poly(2-isopropyl-2-oxazoline) (PiPrOx) side chains are synthesized and characterized by NMR and GPC. Their conformational properties in nitropropane as well as thermoresponsiveness in aqueous solutions are studied and compared with that of free side chains, i.e., linear PiPrOx with a hydrophobic terminal group.