American University of Beirut

Applied Nano-materials and Surface science

​Research in our group “Applied Nano-materials and Surface Science" is focused on nanomaterials, surface modification, and surfactant science for a wide range of applications.  The first line of research is to develop novel membranes and composites using various techniques and study their properties to advance nanomaterials research and innovation. By reducing the size of materials to the nano-dimension, the surface to volume ratio increases which affects many other properties of nanomaterials.  These properties can be further enhanced by surface chemical modification. The second line of research is to synthesize novel surfactants with high performance and efficiency to replace conventional surfactants in the market.

1-    Advanced membranes and composites​

Membranes and composites can be made using various methods (e.g., solvent evaporation, coating, casting, and electrospinning) with their own pros and cons.  Electrospinning is a relatively new and promising technique for making nanofibrous membranes from polymeric solutions.  A typical electrospinning apparatus consists of three major components: a high-voltage power supply, a spinneret, and a collector. The polymeric solution is fed through a cylindrical spinneret tip, and a high voltage (typically 10–40 kV) is applied between the spinneret tip and the collector to produce nanofibers. Despite electrospinning simple setup, there are several parameters affecting the fiber diameter and pore size of the resulting membrane that should be optimized.  By changing the type of polymer and the electrospinning parameters, various membranes with different properties can be obtained. ​  

Some of our previous and current research areas:

  • Waterproof Breathable Fabrics
  • Super Adsorbent
  • Oil Spill Removal
  • Air and Water Filtration
  • Water Desalination
  • Surgical Mesh
  • Wound Dressing
  • Synthetic Bone
  • Drug Delivery
  • Advanced Composites


2-    Surfactants in Solution

Surfactants (surface active agents) are usually organic com​pounds consist of a hydrophob​ic tail and a hydrophilic head group. They are amphiphilic molecules with tendency to adsorb at interfaces, lower interfacial tension, and form aggregates in solution (micelles).  Depending on the nature of the hydrophilic group, surfactants are classified as anionics, cationics, nonionics and zwitterionics.  Surfactants are among the main ingredients of soaps, detergents, shampoos, shower gels, creams, cosmetics, etc. They are also used as textile auxiliaries, oilfield chemicals, emulsifiers, industrial cleaners, solubilizes, surface modifiers, etc.

The price of raw material and energy has increased over the past years and the surfactant industry has moved towards more sustainable products.  Environmental concern has become one of the main driving forces for the development of novel surfactants. Many companies that use surfactants in their formulations are looking into optimization and increasing the performance of their products as part of their sustainability strategy.  One of the strategies is to develop new surfactants with higher efficiency and effectiveness.  

Gemini or dimeric surfactants represent a novel class of surfactants made up of two conventional single-chain surfactants which are chemically bonded by a linker between, or close to, the hydrophilic head groups.  The most important properties of gemini surfactants are lower critical micelle concentration and higher surface activity.  Because of the higher efficiency, gemini surfactants can replace single chain conventional surfactants in a wide range of applications. 

Schematic representation of a gemini surfactant:


Some of our previous and current research areas related to surfactants:

  • Synthesis of Novel Surfactants
  • Solubilization of Dyes / Drugs
  • Self-assembly of Nanoparticles
  • Corrosion Inhibition
  • Surface Modification
  • Emulsions and Microemulsions
  • Oil recovery Enhancement
  • Rheological properties 

Solubilization of Hydrophobic Dyes in Water


​Research Group at AUB

Fouad J. Maksoud (The winner of Stars of Science 2017), Sary Fayad, Mohammad Lameh

Lamiss Zaidouny, Rach Jurdi, Tarek Balchi, A.T., Sary Fayad, Sara Assi, Ahmad Damaj (photo below)

Lamiss Zaidouny, Sara Assi, Sary Fayad, Razan Badran, Ghadeer Jalloul, Rima Farhat, Hussein Yassin, 



Professors K. Ghali, N. Ghaddar, S. Mustapha, M. Harb, M. Ahmad, B. Abou-Tarboush

Professors M. Sabban, R. Alami, R. Nasser Eldine, M. Rafaat, A. Zeidan, A. Jurjus

Professors D. Patra, M. Abiad

Institute for Color Science and Technology
Professors M. Mahdavian, M. Sadeghi

Yazd University
Professor M. Tavanaie

Primary Investigator

Dr. Ali Tehrani​​  (more info)​

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