Albert Yee is a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, and has joint appointments in the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Biomedical Engineering, all at the University of California, Irvine. From 1985 to 2003 he was a professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Macromolecular Science and Engineering, and Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan. While at Michigan he chaired the MSE Dept., and subsequently took a leave of absence to direct the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) in Singapore for three years beginning 2000. Albert obtained BS and PhD degrees in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1967 and 1971, respectively. After his PhD he performed research on the physics and engineering of solid polymers at the Corporate R&D Center of the General Electric Company in Schenectady NY. Albert is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and also a Fellow of the Polymeric Materials Science and Engineering Division of the American Chemical Society. He is the recipient of the Japan-94 prize of the International Adhesion Society, and is one of the most highly cited researchers (ISIHighlyCited.com) in the field of Materials Science.
The group's research focuses on nanotechnology involving polymer materials, and on the physical and mechanical behavior of polymers and their composites and soft materials.
The research on nanotechnology is motivated by the development of complex micro- and nano-electronic, photonic and biomedical devices, which require the integration of many layers and channels comprised of different materials. A major tool we use is a nanoimprinter that allows us to reproduce features as small as 30 nm using polymers. The group and collaborators at the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) in Singapore and at the University of Michigan have developed the reversal imprinting technique (pdf: 412KB) which uniquely allows the imprinting of 3-dimensional nanostructures (pdf: 678KB) and for imprinting on substrates that are not flat. The substrate may be a silicon wafer, glass, or a polymer film. By using inking techniques (pdf: 769KB) that we have also developed, metal films, electrodes, nanospheres, etc., may also be patterned on an imprinted nanostructure. Other nano-sized functional elements such as nanowires may also be grown from these patterns.
The research on physical and mechanical behavior of polymers currently focus on the relaxation and deformation of nanostructures that we have fabricated. Because the size of polymer molecules may actually be larger than these nanostructures, interesting and unexpected relaxation behavior have been observed. The deformation and fracture of polymeric nanostructures are also expected to be quite different from those of bulk materials. These studies will have significant impact on the design and application of polymeric nanostructures to devices. An emerging area of research is to use nanotexturing to control wettability of polymer surfaces and cell adhesion.
A third area of research is a continuation of the work that the group has been engaged in for many years at General Electric and at the University of Michigan: the investigation of failure, fracture and toughening mechanisms of polymers, plastics, and their composites. Excessive deformation and fracture account for the failure of a significant number of products made from plastics. The group has been investigating the mechanisms for failure of plastics and developing strategies for toughening these materials to enhance their resistance to fracture. This research has also included carbon fiber epoxy composites used in the aerospace industry, and nanocomposites (pdf: 2.67MB) comprising nano-sized reinforcement and polymer matrices.