Research focus has been on the development of multifunctional materials, specifically optically active hybrid nanocomposites of polymers (silicones, acrylics, polysaccharides, sol-gels, hydrogels, and colloids) as hosts and filler materials (luminescent complexes, colorimetric dyes, plasmonic metal nanoparticles, and quantum dots, etc.) as guests. The research includes physical, chemical and analytical characterization of these optically active hybrid materials followed by examining their scientific and technological significance at the macro- and nano-scales. Gaining fundamental understanding from electronic, spectroscopic and morphological properties of these composite materials for their utilization in the sensor, environment, and cancer research-biomedical applications being the central focus of different research projects. Achieving the above goals entailed cross-disciplinary collaborations and integration of knowledge base in chemistry, physics, biology, and materials science & engineering.
Sreekar Babu Marpu, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor, University of North Texas, Denton, TX, USA. received his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering in 2011 from the University of North Texas (UNT) in Denton, TX. He has an M.Sc. in Organic Chemistry from Osmania University in India. During his Ph.D. work, he participated in several R&D projects focused on developing carbon, metal, and metal oxide-based nanomaterials with polymers as stabilizing matrices for optoelectronic and biological applications. His research projects on understanding the matrix effect of polymers and hydrogels on the photophysical properties of organometallic luminescent systems resulted in 2 US patents. His research contributions further involved the development of optical sensors based on organometallic luminescent systems. His main projects in the field of sensors included developing strategies and synthesis techniques for making long lifetime, phosphorescent, environmental sensitive (pH, O2, heavy metals, and temperature) molecular probes, stabilized in a variety of biocompatible and industrial significant polymers, hydrogels, xerogels, and sol-gel matrices. Following his Ph.D. work, he undertook postdoctoral training, actively participated in acquiring university grants with his mentor, until he joined IOS (Intelligent Optical Systems, Inc) an R&D company in Los Angeles, California in 2013. At IOS, he has played a key role in the synthesis and fabrication of carbon nanomaterials and films for understanding the stability and characteristic features of gas sensors. One of his main contributions at IOS involved, obtaining an external grant from BASF-Germany for the synthesis of “customized silver nanowires”. In September 2015, he joined UNT as a research assistant professor in the chemistry department. Since then he has been playing a key role as a group manager in the Omary group and also as a PI on multiple optical sensors and biomedical projects. His current projects include the development and testing of optical sensors for space suit applications.