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Brett A. Helms


Staff Scientist, Organic and Macromolecular Synthesis


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Brett A. Helms received his B.S. (2000) from Harvey Mudd College and his Ph.D. (2006) with Jean M. J. Fréchet at the University of California, Berkeley. He joined the staff of the Molecular Foundry in 2007, after postdoctoral research at the Technische Universiteit Eindhoven with E. W. (Bert) Meijer. His research interests include structure of and reactivity at nanocrystal surfaces and assembly of functional mesomaterial systems using block copolymers.

Research Interests

Dr. Helms' research program is devoted to precision chemical synthesis and assembly of functional mesoscale materials from organic, organometallic, polymeric and nanocrystalline building units. Enhanced capabilities relevant to energy and biology are enabled by unique approaches to the modular design of their architectures and interfaces.


Multicomponent Hierarchical Mesoscale Materials

Assembly of Nanocomponents into Hierarchically Ordered Mesoscale Materials

I view recent discoveries in the exciting and unusual physical properties of both organic and inorganic nanoscale building blocks as only the beginning of the transformative era in science. I seek to further harness these compositionally disparate materials synergistically into robust new materials for advanced technologies. However, these components require "blue prints" – that is to say, exogenous agents – that contain instructions on how they will assemble, interface and ultimately function. Given their well-defined and controllable chemistries and architectures, polymers and small molecules are uniquely suited for this task. Read full research paper

Chemistry of Nanocrystal Surfaces

Molecular Level Control over Function from Naked Nanocrystals to Nanocrystal Networks

The surface chemistry of colloidal nanocrystals dominates their physical properties in energy devices and in a biological milieu. To build a foundational understanding of the impact of various surface constituents on properties of interest, I focus on the synthetic development of chemical methodologies to re-surface them with constituents of broad compositional diversity, spanning polymeric, main group and transition metal species. Read full research paper

Selected Publications

All Publications by Brett A. Helms in Foundry database »