Jiaxing Ren did his undergraduate study in chemical engineering at Tsingshua University in Beijing, where he got his first research experience investigating the dispersion of carbon nanotubes. During his senior year, Jiaxing was chosen to join an industry-sponsored exchange program and went to University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to pursue a master’s degree in chemical engineering. While at Illinois, he joined Professor Charles Zukoski’s (now Provost of the University at Buffalo) laboratory and studied the crosslinking of hydrogels with stearic acid. As part of the exchange program, he also interned at the PepsiCo R&D center and established formulas and processing conditions for the Quaker Popped Hummus Chips in the pilot plant. He graduated in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree from Tsinghua University and a master’s degree from University of Illinois.
Jiaxing joined Professor Paul Nealey’s group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2011 and started working on the directed self-assembly of block copolymers. There he developed methods to precisely control the 3-D lattice structures of block copolymers using 2-D chemical patterns. In 2013, Jiaxing obtained a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin and relocated with the Nealey group to the University of Chicago to continue his doctoral study at the newly established Institute for Molecular Engineering (now the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering). At Chicago, he collaborated extensively with the Center for Nanoscale Materials at Argonne National Laboratory and developed membrane fabrication techniques that enabled TEM tomography and x-ray characterization to investigate the in-film 3-D structures in block copolymer self-assembly.
Previous work in the Nealey group has demonstrated that the self-assembly of block copolymers can be precisely controlled with chemically patterned surfaces by tuning the interactions at the interface between a BCP film and the substrate on which it is deposited. This work involved relatively simple morphologies like lamella and cylinders oriented normal to the supporting substrate. Other block copolymer systems can self-assemble into more complex 3-D lattice structures like those found in crystals. Through careful engineering of their self-assembled morphologies, thick films of these novel materials have promising applications in membrane separation as well as energy generation and storage.
Jiaxing is investigating strategies to direct the assembly of block copolymers by using 2-D chemical patterns that match the projection of the desired 3-D morphologies. As a first step, he studied the directed self-assembly of sphere-forming poly(styrene-b-methyl methacrylate) (PS-b-PMMA), achieving perfect assembly of PMMA spheres in a body-centered cubic (BCC) lattice on chemical patterns with square arrays of spots that mirror the (100) plane of the BCC lattice. He has been able to induce perfect orderings in thicker films up to 240nm, which contain five layers of BCC unit cells.
Through extensive collaborations with researchers at Argonne National Laboratory, Jiaxing is also developing methods to back etch the silicon substrate after polymer assembly. Through this approach, the detailed 3-D structures within the polymer films can be studied in situ by transmission x-ray and TEM without distorting or damaging the films.
Zhou, Chun, et al. "Studying the effects of chemistry and geometry on DSA hole-shrink process in three-dimensions." Journal of Micro/Nanolithography, MEMS, and MOEMS 17.3 (2018): 031203.
Hannon, Adam F., et al. "Optimizing self-consistent field theory block copolymer models with X-ray metrology." Molecular systems design & engineering 3.2 (2018): 376-389.
Derivation of Multiple Covarying Material and Process Parameters Using Physics-Based Modeling of X-ray Data
Gurdaman Khaira, Manolis Doxastakis, Alec Bowen, Jiaxing Ren, Hyo Seon Suh, Tamar Segal-Peretz, Xuanxuan Chen, Chun Zhou, Adam F. Hannon, Nicola J. Ferrier, Venkatram Vishwanath, Daniel F. Sunday, Roel Gronheid, R. Joseph Kline, Juan J. de Pablo, Paul F. Nealey. Multiple Covarying Material and Process Parameters Using Physics-Based Modeling of X-ray Data. Macromolecules. 7793. Vol. 50, Pg. 7783.
Derivation of multiple covarying material and process parameters using physics-based modeling of X-ray data
Khaira, Gurdaman, et al. "Derivation of multiple covarying material and process parameters using physics-based modeling of X-ray data." Macromolecules 50.19 (2017): 7783-7793.
Quantitative three-dimensional characterization of block copolymer directed self-assembly on combined chemical and topographical prepatterned templates
Segal-Peretz, Tamar, et al. "Quantitative three-dimensional characterization of block copolymer directed self-assembly on combined chemical and topographical prepatterned templates." ACS nano 11.2 (2017): 1307-1319.
Controlling Domain Orientation of Liquid Crystalline Block Copolymer in Thin Films Through Tuning Mesogenic Chemical Structures
Xie, H. L. Li, X. Ren, J. X. Bishop, C. Arges, C. G. Nealey, P. F.. Controlling Domain Orientation of Liquid Crystalline Block Copolymer in Thin Films Through Tuning Me. Journal of Polymer Science Part B-Polymer Physics. 2017. Vol. 55, Pg. 532-541.
J Ren, L E Ocola, R Divan, D A Czaplewski, T Segal-Peretz, S Xiong, R J Kline, C G Arges and P F Nealey. Post-directed-self-assembly membrane fabrication for in situ analysis of block copolymer structures. Nanotechnology. 2016. Vol. 27, Pg. 435303.