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NC State’s Dr. Russell E. Gorga: Using Nano to Improve Polymer Performance

by Editor1 last modified November 15, 2007 - 18:27

Dr. Russell Gorga and his team at North Carolina State University are focused on improving properties (mechanical, conductive, and barrier) of polymer nanocomposites. His team has incorporated carbon nanotubes into polymer fibers to increase their electrical conductivity and signaling performance, and is exploring how nanofibers might be used as “tissue scaffolds” to grow cells into conformal tissue. Dr. Gorga spoke with

NC State’s Dr. Russell E. Gorga: Using Nano to Improve Polymer Performance

Dr. Russell Gorga's team at NC State are working to improve polymers through use of nanomaterials.

The Nano Advantage

Dr. Gorga, an assistant professor in the textile engineering, chemistry, and science department at North Carolina State University, has had a long passion for technologies that can improve life.

Whether striving for better learning-based classroom innovations or finding new materials for novel applications, this materials specialist has the vision to find a better path and to light the way for others to follow.

Dr. Gorga began his work in nanomaterials under the direction of Dr. Robert Cohen in the Department of Chemical Engineering at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). There, during his post-doctoral work, Dr. Gorga worked on improving the strength of brittle polymers, such as poly (methyl methacrylate). His doctoral work there focused on developing relationships between molecular micro–macro properties of polymer–polymer interfaces. Specifically, he mechanistically related interfacial strength to miscibility and mobility characteristics of the polymer constituents.

From 1997 through 2000, Dr. Gorga worked as a research engineer at Union Carbide Corp., where he focused on structure-property relationships of semicrystalline polymers for high-strength commodity applications.

The Dedicated Educator
That passion for improvement also shows up in his passion for teaching. Although Dr. Gorga continues to develop novel materials for applications that will help society, his commitment to improvement does not stop in the laboratory. Extremely interested in classroom innovations, he continually seeks new ways to make the classroom a learning-focused environment.

Among his recent publications, Dr. Gorga is a contributor to the Handbook of Nanoscience, Engineering, and Technology, Second Edition (CRC Press, May 2007).

Dr. Gorga's Future Path
Building on his initial interest in polymer physics and nanoparticles, Dr. Gorga is on the path to applying new materials to novel applications and thus solving quality of life issues. Like many of his colleagues, he says, “I would like to see the technology breakthrough to more commercial/industrial applications. That is, to make the connection between basic research and the scale-up necessary for commercialization.” And while every scientist working in Nano might share such a goal, this polymer specialist has already demonstrated the sort of determination and skill required to realize its accomplishment.