HMC Expert: Nancy Lape

Bioengineering, Engineering, Nanocomposite Membranes, Transdermal Transport

Nancy Lape, PhD, Professor of Engineering, focuses her research on two areas: energy-efficient composite gas separation membranes and chemical transport across human skin.

Nanocomposite Gas Separation Membranes

To efficiently and effectively separate gas mixtures–such as applying a filter system to trap harmful gasses from factory emissions–membranes must exhibit high gas permeability (fast transport) and high selectivity for one gas over the other. Unfortunately, these properties tend to be diametrically opposed. Lape’s lab examines the crossover between permeability enhancement and reduction with changes in particle size and polymer type. Understanding these effects will allow for the design of tunable membranes for gas separations.

Transdermal Drug Delivery Systems

Human skin provides a two-way barrier that prevents potentially harmful chemicals or diseases from entering the body while slowing water as it exits the body. Medicines applied to the skin may thus not work effectively due to the barrier of the outermost layer of skin, the stratum corneum. Molecules on the skin’s surface must pass this layer to reach the bloodstream. Lape’s lab investigates the potential increase in skin permeability by mechanical extension, and the effects of hydration on rate of transport, research that could lead to improved transdermal drug delivery systems.

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Judy Augsburger

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