Contact Information

Professor Robert Tilton
Director, Center for Complex Fluids Engineering

Dr. Annette Jacobson
Director, Colloids, Polymers and Surfaces (CPS) Educational Program

Laura Shaheen
CPS and CFE Administrative Assistant
(412) 268-6344
E-mail:lr23 [at]



Industrial Interactions - Resources - Collaborations

Research in the Center is both discovery- and application-oriented.  Particular foci include colloidal forces, rheology, adsorption, electrokinetics, surface functionalization, wetting, self-assembly and crystallization phenomena, their inter-relationships, and their application to processes as diverse as biopharmaceutical separations, coating technologies and environmental remediation.  Numerous research projects are underway to develop novel nanomaterials and nanoparticle-based technologies.

A highly collaborative spirit is behind the Center’s well-known ability to assemble multidisciplinary teams to take on complex industrial, medical and environmental problems.   Conduct of fundamental and applied research in parallel provides an outstanding opportunity for graduate education.  Ph.D. students working in the Center gain deep fundamental knowledge while maintaining a strong awareness of how those fundamentals are used to develop new technologies. Our Ph.D. students benefit from the educational resources of the Colloids, Polymers and Surfaces Program. Broad-based lecture and laboratory courses complement their in-depth research expertise as they prepare to enter a wide variety of industries.  Our graduates have thriving careers in pharmaceuticals, advanced and electronic materials, biotechnology, textiles, specialty chemicals, petroleum, paper and paint manufacture.


The practical importance of complex fluids engineering has nucleated strong interactions between the Center and a variety of industries. These interactions take several forms ranging from formal workshops, the formation of an industrial advisory board through individual faculty consulting.

CFE Facilities and Resources
Researchers in the CCFE have extensive experimental facilities available.


The Center houses impressive experimental facilities. The CPS Educational program maintains two laboratories for basic colloid and polymer characterization. Individual faculty have both off the shelf and custom built equipment and facilities for the measurement of interfacial properties, interaction energies and macroscopic properties. The Center often performs experimental studies for exploratory or consulting purposes, the relevant contact information is provided below along with a list of equipment currently housed in the CPS Educational Program Laboratories.

PPG Industries CPS Laboratory Facilities (Doherty Hall, CMU campus)

Colloid and Surface Characterization Equipment

Polymer Characterization Equipment

Plus complete sample preparation facilities with some limited synthesis apparatus.

For information about access to the CPS laboraties and equipment, please contact the Director of the CPS Labs, Prof. Annette Jacobson (jacobson [at]

CFE Faculty Collaborations
A manifestation of the interdisciplinary nature of the Center is the existence of jointly advised students and industrially-funded projects. A partial list of these is provided.