Charles Zukoski Ph.D.

Zukoski, Charles
Position Department / Business Unit
William H. and Janet G. Lycan Professor; Vice Chancellor for Research, UIUC Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Institution Disciplines
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Mathematics Nanostructures
City State / Provence
Urbana Illinois
Country Website
U.S.A. link
(217) 333-5052

William H. and Janet G. Lycan Professor Vice Chancellor for Research, UIUC

Suspensions of small (0.05-10 micrometers) particles are commonly used in materials processing operations where rapid solids transport and large surface areas are required. These colloidal particles have applications in a wide range of fields including drilling muds, paints, cements, emulsions, and ceramics. Despite their diverse forms, the properties of these suspensions are linked by a common underlying physical chemistry. The research carried out by my group concentrates on understanding the relationships between surface physical chemistry and the material properties of colloidal suspensions. Particular attention is paid to methods of manipulating interparticle forces to alter particle and suspension properties.

Currently we are studying the properties of saturated and partially saturated granular materials. Issues of significance are how particle interactions control the microstructure within sheared and compacting slurries and how these forces are manifested in crack formation in drying slurries. These problems arise in diverse applications such as ceramic fabrication, production of photonic band gap materials, and coatings on paper used for inkjet printing. How stress develops and is propagated in stable and aggregated suspensions and the long-range effects of container walls in controlling stress transfer are questions we investigate.

In a second series of problems, we are concerned with phase behavior of nanoparticle suspensions. Altering the strength of particle interactions and their concentration results in fluid/fluid, fluid/solid, and gel transitions. Each of these transitions has its applications. We are studying the role of the strength and range of the particle interaction potential in controlling which transition takes place. One application of these ideas lies in the formation of responsive fluids where prominently sensitive polymers are used to alter the state of the suspension. A second application is understanding the crystallization of globular macromolecules of biological significance. Here we are developing methods of rapidly locating solution conditions that give rise to protein or RNA crystals. This research leads us into detailed studies of how to characterize the strength of nanoparticle interactions on samples containing a few microliters and to developing microfluidic devices where rapid solution screens can be carried out on small amounts of material. We investigate how the formation of x-ray quality crystals is influenced by the strength of interactions and how additives alter rates of nucleation and growth at a fixed supersaturation.


B.A., Reed College, 1977; Ph.D., Princeton University, 1984


  • NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, 1986
  • Fulbright Scholar, Department of Applied Mathematics, University of Melbourne, 1992
  • Ralph K. Iler Award in the Chemistry of Colloidal Materials, ACS, 1997
  • Alpha Chi Sigma Award, AIChE, 2002


Dekker Encyclopedia of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology

Important Articles

Phase Behavior of Nanoparticle Suspensions

By this Researcher

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