Padma Gopalan

Position title: Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Chemistry


Phone: 608.265.4258

1143 Engineering Research Building
Madison, WI 53706

Research Website
Gopalan Group
Padma Gopalan


  • Ph.D. 2001, Cornell University
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies, 2001-03



Our group research interests involve the molecular design, synthesis, and characterization of novel functional organic/polymeric materials directed towards electro-optic, photonic and biological applications. Efforts are targeted towards developing versatile synthetic strategies, which would enable the control of nano- functionality, structure and property. Our current research focus is in three major areas: new synthetic strategies towards organic photonic and electronic materials, self-assembly of rod-coil block copolymers with conducting/liquid crystalline segments and directed assembly of biological, mesogenic and nonmesogenic molecules using polymeric templates.

Our goal is to design novel materials by using the advances made in polymer chemistry and organic chemistry for photonic and biological applications. One such example is elecro-optic materials for high -speed modulators. Compared to lithium niobate based modulators, organic materials have advantages in terms of fast response time, low dielectric constant and low dispersion in index of refraction from dc to optical frequencies hence minimizing the velocity mismatch. Our efforts are too design new materials with most of the desirable properties using elegant chemistry and demonstrate their viability in photonic devices. Fundamental understanding of the organic-inorganic interface and tailoring these interfaces is a critical component towards successful design of such materials.

The second area of emphasis is self-assembly and directed-assembly of block copolymers. Self-assembly of block copolymers can result in organization on length scales ranging from few nanometers to micron size scale. Our interest is in designing block copolymers with nanometer size self-assembled structures. These block copolymers are those containing functional units such as liquid crystalline or conducting domains. Understanding the factors governing the phase separation process in these complex rod-coil block copolymers and predicting the morphologies is the key motivation in this area. Directed-assembly of various organic, inorganic and biological molecules using templates of functional polymeric brushes is another area of interest. In the last few years the area of surface anchored polymeric brushes has grown tremendously. Polymeric brushes provide a uniform, high surface density of the desired functionality, which makes them attractive for biosensor applications and as interfaces to impart specific properties such as biocompatibility.