My research focuses on transport in liquid membranes and modeling and developing new systems. In a liquid membrane, a carrier molecule facilitates the separation of a solute from a mixture by selectively transporting it to a receiving phase.
In my research, I investigate carrier molecules whose binding properties can be modified with light, resulting in photofacilitated membranes. Transport in photofacilitated membranes can be turned on and off with light, which would be useful for selective delivery of drugs or for photosensors. More importantly, photofacilitated liquid membranes can concentrate solute in the sweep solution.
If the solute is useful, it can be removed from a dilute solution and concentrated for easy recovery. Conversely, if the solute is toxic, the feed is purified, and the solute is concentrated in the sweep making disposal easier.
I've done theoretical work (with the great help of undergraduate research students) to learn what sort of carrier and membrane properties will produce the best photofacilitated liquid membranes. Our work indicates that solute transport with both sides of the membrane illuminated can be much higher than solute transport in the dark.
My next step is to develop carriers and liquid membrane systems to test the predictions.