Prof. Libera's research interests primarily center on measuring and controlling the morphology of soft materials, both synthetic polymers and biological tissue. Much of his work focuses on the development, implementation, and application of advanced imaging techniques to the measure materials morphology using various types of microscopy, particularly electron microscopy and increasingly with confocal immunofluorescence imaging. Over the past decade he has concentrated his efforts primarily on polymeric biomaterials such as hydrogels and bioresorbable materials with applications to biomedical devices. A particular area of ongoing interest concerns the question of how to develop next-generation biomaterials that reduce the susceptibility of biomedical devices to infection while preserving their desirable healing properties.
In the area of advanced electron microscopy, Libera studies polymer morphology and polymer interfaces using spatially resolved electron energy-loss spectroscopy (EELS) in multi-component systems such as block copolymers, polymer blends, and composites. One current emphasis area centers on the quantitative mapping of water in hydrated polymers and tissue using cryo-TEM coupled with spatially resolved EELS. This work has led to activities at Stevens to both study the physics of electron-polymer interactions as well as pattern polymers on surfaces using electron-beam lithography.
Prof. Libera is the Executive Director of the Stevens Laboratory for MultiScale Imaging (LMSI), a core user facility with an array of imaging tools including transmission electron microscopy (TEM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM) coupled with dip-pen nanolithography (DPN), and confocal/fluorescence optical imaging. Libera recently played a leading role in winning NSF funding to acquire a new and very advanced cryo-scanning electron microscope (SEM) optimized for the measurement of materials morphology, including frozen-hydrated materials, at high spatial resolution. This and other LMSI instruments are enabling Stevens researchers to make important new discoveries ranging from new ways to deliver drugs, creating hip and knee implants that are more infection resistant, to helping to heal major bone fractures. In addition to these innovate research areas, the LMSI is providing opportunities for high-school outreach and education through the collaborative activities with the Stevens Center for Innovative Engineering and Science Education and the Project SEED program of the American Chemical Society.
Prof. Libera is a member of the Society for Biomaterials, the Materials Research Society (MRS), the Microscopy Society of America (MSA), the American Physical Society (APS), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). His efforts as both a researcher and teacher at Stevens have been recognized by the award of an honorary Stevens Masters degree (2005), the Jess N. Davis Award for Exemplary Research, 1998, and the Alexander Humphreys Award for Outstanding Teaching, 1997, among other accolades.