Prof. Chaim Sukenik is a Professor of Chemistry and is the incumbent of the Edward and Judith Steinberg Chair in Nanotechnology. He has served as Dean of the Faculty of Exact Sciences and Director of the Minerva Center for Nanoscale Particles and Films as Tailored Biomaterial Interfaces. He was among the founders of the Bar-Ilan Institute for Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials (BINA).
Research in Sukenik’s lab focuses on understanding the chemistry of ordered organic assemblies with an emphasis on self-assembled monomolecular films. There are a number of important applications of this thin film chemistry to problems in biomaterial design, biosensors, and nanoscale devices.
To this end, thin film monolayer assemblies provide a structurally well-defined means of changing surface properties of materials without altering their bulk properties. Both organic and inorganic thin films have been developed as tools for controlling the surfaces of both metals and polymers.
The group has used monolayer films as templates for the growth of a wide range of metal oxide thin films. These ceramic materials are remarkably uniform and pore free. Moreover, by patterning the monolayer, Sukenik and his team can pattern the ceramic overlayer.
The ceramic films are typically very adherent to the solid substrates even in the face of aggressive thermal or chemical post-deposition treatments. Sukenik and his group are currently exploring the physical and chemical properties of these films, as well as their potential use as barrier layers.
Similarly, monolayer assemblies are being tested with an eye toward the anchoring of organometallic catalysts and biologically active molecules on a variety of glass and metal surfaces. The stability, uniform thickness, and controlled chemical composition of siloxane-anchored and phosphonate-anchored self-assembled monolayers make them an ideal vehicle for the application of novel anchoring chemistries with control over molecular orientation and activity.
In related work, thin film coatings are being tested as novel tools for modifying surface properties of micron to nanometer scale devices. Such applications focus on the electronic, mechanical, wetting, and lubrication properties of the films.
Sukenik and his group have found ways to deposit thin oxide films that have been shown to repel bacteria when applied to the silicon rubber used in medical devices such as catheters. Interestingly, this same method for fabricating thin oxide films has been used to improve the stability of polymer composites and protect satellites from the erosion that occurs in low earth orbit. They also provide a new approach to the control of the mechanical properties of a polymer surface.
Researchers in Sukenik’s lab also collaborate with Prof. Avi Zadok and Dr Doron Naveh, of the BIU School of Engineering and BINA. With Zadok, he has fabricated layered “sandwiches” of electronic and photonic materials, resulting in a new paradigm for wafer processing with the potential for the creation of advanced opto-electronic devices. With Naveh, he is exploring new approaches to the chemical modification of 2D materials for novel electronic devices.
Sukenik’s group continues to expand its repertoire of nano-fabrication tools with the addition of atomic layer deposition (ALD) as a research focus. Thus, a combination of various solution processing methodologies and vapor phase-based bath techniques can be brought together to provide new kinds of surface structures and gain new insight into chemistry at interfaces. These modified surfaces are showing great promise for control adhesion to polymer surfaces and enabling the controlled modification of organic-inorganic composites.