Columbia University’s first Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) was established to generate a full understanding of the structure-property relationships for different surface-active agents including polymers and particularly their mixtures, and to develop novel/modified reagents and new applications on the basis of the generated knowledge. The Center is sponsored by private companies together with the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy. In 2008, Columbia University and the University of Florida formed the joint I/UCR Center for Particulate and Surfactant Systems (CPaSS), with the aim of developing particulate and surfactant systems for industrial applications. Upon the suggestion of the Advisory Committee, in view of breadth of the topics covered now, it is contemplated to change the name to I/UCR Center for Interfacial Engineering and Science.
The Center aims to examine the solution and interfacial behavior of specialty surfactants, polymers, proteins, and nanoparticles, develop modified surface-active agents, and identify suitable industrial applications. The current emphasis of I/UCRC is to study greener reagents and engineered particles as well as processing schemes for various industrial applications and consumer products, to investigate the role of reagent conformation/orientation in flocculation/dispersion/deposition/wettability of particulate systems, to broaden the utilization of environmentally benign surfactants, polymers and their mixtures in a wide array of commercial applications including personal care, household, and pharmaceutical products, as well as green energy and environment remediation. An important new initiative is to explore the next generation of greener and more efficient reagents within the three dimensions of ecology, economy, and society for sustainable mineral and material processing.
In addition, I/UCRC is actively developing and adapting various ad-vanced techniques to study special and temporal interactions of surface active molecules in solutions and at interfaces. The Center recently acquired advanced electrochemical equipment, which will be utilized in developing new methods for studying protein aggregation and detection of nanoparticles released by consumer products. The Center developed advanced FTIR, Raman, EPR, and fluorescence spectroscopic capabilities to study conformations and dynamics of surfactants, polymers, and proteins at interfaces and in solutions. We have also developed analytical ultracentrifugation for studying the aggregate size and mass distribution of species in mixed surfactants.
Columbia’s I/UCRC is comprised of faculty, staff researchers, post-doctorate researchers, and graduate students. The faculty members are: Prof. P. Somasundaran (Director), Prof. Paul F. Duby (Electro and Aqua Chemistry), Prof. Ah-Hyung Alissa Park (Chemical Engineering and Particle Technology), Prof. Lawrence Chasin (Biology), Prof. Alexander Orlov (Energy and Materials), Prof. Devinder Mahajan (Biofuels) Dr. D. R. Nagaraj, Adjunct Professor, and Dr. Ray Farinato, Adjunct Professor. Furthermore, the Center also collaborates with other national (CUNY, NYU (Polytechnic), Tulane, Rice, IIT (Chicago, NEU/Harvard, LSU, ISU)) and international institutions (Chalmers University, DDSU (Nadiad), University of Bergen, IIT (Madras), Amrita University), University of Bern, Rice University etc.
The Center offers full and affiliate memberships to industrial and re-search organizations. As a full member, a company may discuss and vote on each project and establish new ventures. Moreover, full members have favorable licensing rights and may contribute additional funds to sponsor a non-core project for specific research of interest to the company in addition to offering exclusivity.