Dye Chemistry

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In the Dye Chemistry area, we conduct research on and teach students about the design, synthesis, and uses of color containing substances known as dyes and pigments.

The key distinction is that dyes can be dissolved in water and/or an organic solvent, while pigments are insoluble in both types of liquid media. The dye and pigment design process takes the target substrate and end-use application area into consideration. It is by no means a “hit or miss” process. For instance, dyes are designed that have 1) greater affinity for the substrate than the medium (usually water) from which it is applied and 2) a high degree of permanence under end-use conditions (e.g. stability to fading upon exposures to water and/or sunlight).

The dyes we make are used in the coloration of 1) polyamide and protein substrates such as nylon, wool, and silk, 2) hydrophobic substrates such as polyester and acetate, and 3) cellulosic substrates such as cotton, rayon, linen, and paper. Our dyes are also used for medical applications such as PDT (Photodynamic Therapy), for ink-jet printing, for solar energy collection (solar cells), and for self-decontaminating surfaces. As you might expect, we use computers to guide and speed up the research we do in dye chemistry. For a more specific list of projects please visit faculty pages listed.