Associate Chair & Professor, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
Professor, Materials Science & Nanoengineering
Rafael Verduzco is a Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Materials Sciences and NanoEngineering at Rice University. He received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 2007 studying liquid crystal polymer gels and his B.S. in chemical engineering from Rice University in 2001. Rafael then went on to a postdoctoral position in the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, where he studied bent-core liquid crystals, water-soluble dendrimers for drug delivery, and conjugated polymeric materials for organic electronics.
The Verduzco laboratory uses a combination of polymer chemistry and multi-scale characterization tools to broadly address challenges in polymer science, and current areas of research include polymers for microbial bioelectronics, polymeric membranes for water treatment, and bottlebrush polymer additives for surface modification.
The Verduzco laboratory carries out research involving polymers, which are present in a wide variety of materials; these including commercial products as well as proteins and biological materials. The research goal of the Verduzco laboratory is to take advantage of self-assembly in polymeric materials, in particular block copolymers, for a wide range of applications, including organic solar cells, engineering surface properties, and drug encapsulation and delivery. Block copolymers with well-defined molecular structures can be used to control material properties down to the nanoscale. The Verduzco laboratory utilizes advanced polymer synthesis techniques as well as a variety of nanoscale characterization tools, in particular small-angle x-ray scattering which provides structural information in polymer thin films and powders.
In one current are of research, the Verduzco group is developing semiconductive block copolymers for use in polymer based solar cells, which are significantly cheaper and easier to fabricate compared with silicon-based solar cells. Semiconductive block polymers which can self-assemble into nanostructured photovoltaic films can potentially lead to higher power conversion efficiencies as well as quantitative information on the relationship between performance, optoelectronic properties, and structural details.
B.S. in Chemical Engineering, Rice University, 2001
M.S. in Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology, 2003
Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology, 2007
Postdoc in Nanoscience, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 2009
Honors & Awards
CTE Faculty Fellow, 2022-25
Rice Research + Teaching Award, 2020
George R. Brown prize for Superior Teaching, 2021