Prof. Jeff Yarger's research program is interested in understanding the role that local structure and dynamics plays in controlling the physical and mechanical properties of a wide range of technologically and biologically important, but disordered, materials. Systems currently under investigation include spider silk fibers and biopolymers, protein clusters, polyamorphic materials, nano-particles and quantum dots, battery and fuel cell materials, and most recently diabetes related research. Most of this research is highly interdisciplinary and many projects involve collaborations with the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory, the Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and with other faculty in Chemistry and Biochemistry, Materials Science, Physics and Molecular Biology. Central to ongoing research is the use and development of solid-state NMR and MRI techniques applied to elucidate local structure and dynamics in disordered materials.
Spider silk is a remarkable biopolymer, a light weight protein fiber which spiders produce for diverse purposes including web structure, prey immobilization, making egg cases and are a key to their survival. With a unique combination of high elasticity, mechanical strength and toughness, its superior material properties surpass those of any currently known man-made fiber. In addition, these fibers are biocompatible and biodegradable. It is one of the best examples of block copolymers in Nature in which repeating structural motifs are linked together covalently resulting in polymers that organize themselves into a variety of nano-structures with exceptional material properties. The figures and illustrations shown on the web page provide some recent examples of NMR, X-ray, Raman, IR and Brillouin results by our research group. These results are published in several papers and are examples of our groups' efforts to understand the mechanical and physical properties of spider silks at the molecular level.
Organic and Bioorganic ligand capped nanomaterials is another major research thrust within the group. Specifically, we are exploring the ligand capping chemistry of metal, metal oxide and semiconducting nanoparticles and quantum dots at the molecular level. The group is developing new NMR, X-ray and laser light scattering instruments and methods for elucidating the molecular structure of nanomaterials. For example, Gold nanoparticles (1-5 nm diameter AuNPs) capped with organic ligands are frequently used in catalysis, biomedicine and nanotechnology. Below is a figure from a resent paper where our group developed a facile synthesis for trioctylphosphine capped gold (Au) nanoparticles.
Prof. Jeff Yarger's research program has research labs in ISTB1 on the Tempe Campus as ASU. This is also the location of the Magnetic Resonance Research Center, which Prof. Yarger is the founding director. I picture of our research group and collaborators at ASU is shown with everyone on the staircase of our 800 MHz NMR system. Besides labs at ASU, part of Prof. Yarger's group is at Argonne National Labs and at the Spallation Neutron Source at ORNL.