The overall purpose of Dr. Elias’ research is to develop functional soft materials. She develops processing, patterning, and chemical-modification techniques to control and manipulate the surface and bulk properties of soft materials. Her group studies polymer-nanoparticle composites, graphenic nanomaterials, degradable biopolymers, and hydrogels.
A key focus of Dr. Elias' work is on stimulus-responsive materials, which are materials that can sense a change in their surroundings, and undergo a change in properties. As such she is developing responsive materials which undergo both reversible and irreversible transitions in response to stimuli including temperature, pH, humidity, and even bacteria. These materials can undergo changes in optical, electronic, or other properties when the stimulus of interest is detected. Stimulus-responsive materials can be used in in a variety of sensor applications, from wearable biomedical devices to monitoring of food freshness and safety.
Another of Dr. Elias’ core competencies is the development of new techniques for patterning materials on the micro- and nanoscale for the manufacturing of microscaled devices. She further studies how processing conditions affects the properties of the resulting materials, including thin films and composites, as these properties can differ significantly from those of bulk materials. Furthermore, techniques that can be used on bulk materials cannot also be used for materials with smaller dimensions. Her group has recently demonstrated an optical-based technique for monitoring the stability and degradation of thin film polymer films.