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by C. Jeffrey Brinker and George W. Scherer (Hardcover - April 28, 1990). 908 pp
ISBN 0-12-134970-5
Academic Press, Inc.
1250 Sixth Avenue
San Diego, CA  92101

C.J. Brinker Biography  

C. Jeffrey Brinker is widely recognized for his pioneering work in sol-gel chemistry – the formation of ceramic materials from molecular precursors. His initial efforts addressed the processing of highly refractory glasses like fused silica at remarkably low temperatures – less than half that of conventional melt-processing. He then turned his attention to the preparation of porous materials useful for a wide range of applications including antireflective coatings, sensors, membranes, adsorbents, and thermal and acoustic insulation. Through exploitation of the scaling relationships of mass and size of fractal objects, he devised a fractal engineering approach to tailor the porosity and pore size of these materials. This early work culminated in the publication of Sol-Gel Science in 1990 (with co-author George Scherer), a book that remains the most highly cited reference in this rapidly growing field.

During the 1990’s, Brinker made a number of significant contributions to the fields of porous and composite materials. First, through the creative use of silane coupling chemistry, he devised a simple, inexpensive means to prepare aerogels, the world’s lightest solids, at room temperature and pressure. By avoiding expensive and often dangerous supercritical (high temperature and pressure) processing conditions, Brinker along with co-developer, Doug Smith, abolished the 60 year-old barrier to commercial aerogel production and enabled the first preparation of aerogels as thin films by dip- or spin-coating. Aerogels, dubbed soufflés of the materials world by The Economist and referred to as a 21st Century Material – have extraordinarily low thermal conductivities.

Second, Brinker and his UNM/Sandia team developed a variety of templating strategies employing ligands, molecules, and supramolecular assemblies to precisely control the pore size of films for use as membranes, adsorbents, pre-concentrators (Chem-Lab on a Chip), and low k dielectrics. Especially significant is the concept of evaporation-induced self-assembly EISA. Starting with a homogeneous solution of soluble silica, alcohol, water, and surfactant (detergent) molecules, evaporation accompanying dip- or spin-coating enriches the depositing film in silica and surfactant, inducing the continuous self-assembly of periodic silica/surfactant mesophases (supramolecular nanostructures appearing as nano-sized honeycombs or jungle gyms). Removal of the surfactant templates creates a silica fossil of the surfactant mesophase. The precise periodic porosity of these films has enabled the development of inorganic membranes with the best reported combination of selectivity and flux – in addition the small pores, narrow pore size distribution, and fully connected framework architecture has made these films prime competitors in the race for the optimum low k film for the next several generations of microelectronics.

Third, Brinker and colleagues extended the EISA concept to the formation of organic-inorganic nanocomposites that mimicked the hard/soft laminated construction of natural materials like sea shells (nacre), which due to their hardness, toughness and strength have been heralded as a holy grail of materials design and construction. In a process akin to washing dishes, he used surfactant assemblies called micelles to organize both organic precursors (monomers, crosslinkers, and initiators sequestered within the hydrophobic micellar interiors) and hydrophilic inorganic precursors (assembled around the hydrophilic micellar exteriors). Evaporation organized the micelles into liquid crystalline mesophases simultaneously positioning the organic and inorganic precursors into hundreds of alternating layers in a single step. Organic and inorganic polymerization resulted in highly ordered layered polymer/silica nanocomposites with covalently bonded interfaces. This simple evaporation induced route can be considered a general efficient means of nanocomposite assembly and should lead to the rapid discovery of new materials and properties.

Finally by performing EISA within aerosol droplets, Brinker along with Yunfeng Lu (Tulane) and Hongyou Fan (Sandia) prepared nanoparticles with precise porous or composite architectures. The starting point for this process is a solution or colloidal suspension like that used to form films. Evaporation of the aerosol droplet causes self-assembly to proceed radially inward. Any additives introduced into the solution are inevitably incorporated within the self-assembling droplet, enabling ship-in-the-bottle constructions. This approach has significant implications in a diverse range of technologies like drug delivery, cosmetics, catalysis, chromatography, and custom designed pigments.

During the past several years, Brinker and his UNM and Sandia colleagues have extended their original work on evaporation-induced self-assembly in several significant ways. First they demonstrated the direct writing of functional self-assembled nanostructures using computer-driven pens and ink-jet printers. This approach first described in Nature and dubbed ‘intelligent ink’ by the N.Y.Times provided a simple robust means to form functional hierarchically organized structures in seconds and established the first link between computer-aided design and self-assembled nanostructures. Second, was the self-assembly of photosensitive films that incorporated molecular photoacid generators compartmentalized within their periodic nanostructures. Exposure of the films to UV light enabled dose-dependent (gray-scale) patterning of etchability, wetting behavior, pore volume, pore size, and refractive index. This combination of photosensitivity and self-assembly should enable standard lithographic procedures to be used both to pattern and define the structure and function of nanomaterials. Third was the use of polymerizable surfactants both to direct the self-assembly of periodic nanostructures and to serve as monomeric precursors to a conjugated polymer. This work provides a completely new, highly-controlled method of incorporating conjugated polymers in nanostructured hosts enabling control of their charge and energy transfer necessary to advance the field of organic electronics.

C. Jeffrey Brinker was born in Easton, Pennsylvania and attended Rutgers University where he received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in ceramic science and engineering. Jeff joined Sandia National Laboratories as a Member of the Technical Staff in 1979. He was promoted to Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff at SNL and appointed Distinguished National Laboratory Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the University of New Mexico in 1991. Since 1999, he has been jointly employed at SNL where he is Sandia Fellow and at UNM where he is Regent’s Professor of Chemical and Nuclear Engineering with co-appointments in the Departments of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and Chemistry. Brinker has been recognized nationally and internationally for his work in sol-gel processing and its extension to self-assembly of porous and composite nanostructures. His awards include R&D100 Awards in 1996 and 2007, the American Chemical Society’s Ralph K. Iler Award in the Chemistry of Colloidal Materials (sponsored by DuPont), five Department of Energy Basic Energy Sciences Awards, the DOE Ernest O. Lawrence Memorial Award in Materials Science, and the Materials Research Society 2003 MRS Medal. In February 2002 he was elected into the National Academy of Engineering.