Robert Hickey received his B.S. in Chemistry at Widener University (2007) and doctorate in Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania (2013). At Penn, he worked in the laboratory of Prof. So-Jung Park and researched how to control the morphology and materials properties of colloidal aggregates composed of inorganic nanoparticles and amphiphilic diblock copolymers, which have biomedical applications. The summer after graduate school, Robert conducted research related to his Ph.D. work at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea. As a postdoctoral researcher, he worked in the labs of Profs. Frank Bates and Tim Lodge at the University of Minnesota. At Minnesota, his research focused on fundamentally understanding the self-assembly and phase behavior of ternary polymer blends, as well as on applying these principles to ternary polymer electrolyte systems in which intricate relationships exist between morphology and Li+ ion diffusion.
The properties of hybrid inorganic/polymeric materials are intimately tied to the spatial arrangement of the individual components. Research in the Hickey Lab focuses on the synthesis and characterization of nanocomposite materials with properties relevant to optical, magnetic, electronic, and catalytic technologies. The theme of this research is to utilize a combination of inorganic, materials, and polymer chemistry to create hierarchical, supramolecular structures by controlling the bottom-up assembly of nanocrystals and polymers.