Contact Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology
Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre, Room 3606
University of Waterloo
200 University Ave. W.
Waterloo, ON. N2L 3G1
+1 519 888 4567, ext.38654
Research interests: pressure-sensitive and adaptable adhesives (gecko arrays); interfacial phenomena
Professor Boxin Zhao conducted systematic studies on the gecko adhesive system and synthetic pressure-sensitive adhesives, producing new knowledge and technology on the development of adaptable and responsible “smart” adhesives.
Zhao’s research focuses on the adhesion and associated micro and nano-mechanical properties of soft materials such as synthetic and biological polymers, sticky fluids and biological tissues, in particular, under micro and nanometer confinements.
Before joining Waterloo, Zhao had worked as a postdoctoral fellow in Professor Jacob Israelachvili’s Interfacial Science Laboratory at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research experience included measuring molecular and surface forces and characterizing adhesion and adhesives, colloidal stabilities, interfacial phenomena (such as adhesion, friction, fracture) in polymers and biological systems. In 2005, Zhao worked as a visiting scientist at the Australian Pulp and Paper Institute (Melbourne, Australia) to help with transferring a new peel-based technique developed from his research work at McMaster to measure the quality of newsprints and provide consultation on paper surface strength measurements related to inks/paper interactions in printing.
- PhD, Chemical Engineering, McMaster University, 2004
- MEng, Chemical Technology, Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing, 1999
- BEng, Mineral Engineering, Central South University, China, 1996
Developing micro and nano adhesion and joining technology
Professor Zhao’s primary interest is to explore adhesion phenomena at small length scales, which have technological implications for chemical and mechanical and biomedical applications. Effective adhesion between similar or dissimilar material components has become one of the most critical technical prerequisites for advanced manufacturing at ever-smaller scales. Polymers are good adhesive materials because of its long-chain structure which is able to absorb a large amount of mechanical energy and can be readily filled with such filler components as nanoparticles and nanowires.
Understanding the behaviours of soft polymer materials
Soft polymer materials and their interaction with nanofillers have much more complex behavior and are less understood than pure liquids and solids. Understanding and modeling these behaviours is central to developing micro and nano technology. Dr Zhao’s research combines novel experimental setup with biomimetic approaches and micro/nano tribological measurements to characterize these complex systems, and to discover new coating, adhesion and joining strategies and approaches that can be incorporated and translated into materials and manufacturing processes for robust and multifunctional bonding.
Contributions to the field
Additional contributions of Dr Zhao’s research to the field include: development of a simple approach for quantifying the thermodynamic potential of polymer–polymer adhesion; study of the differences between liquid- and solid-like fracture and failure mechanisms, and the transition between them; the investigation, both experimentally and theoretically, of the adhesion and friction forces characteristics of gecko setal arrays (or foot hairs), developing a Johnson-Kendall-Roberts (JKR)-friction model to interpret dynamic behavior of gecko setal arrays, and inducing practical implications and criteria for designing structured and adaptable adhesive surfaces. Dr Zhao has published 29 papers in peer-reviewed journals and delivered 20 oral technical presentations internationally.
- Micro and nano adhesion and joining technology
- Biomimetic adhesion and bio-inspired materials
- Adhesion, surface forces and contact dynamics
- Polymers, interfacial phenomena and surface chemistry