Physics Profile: Lela Todorova

Lela Todorova

A polyglot who analyzes polymers: Lela Todorova.

Lela, a Physics alum, examined as an undergraduate the behavior of polymers in nanoscale settings, which differs when in bulk. A polymer is a long chain of recurring molecular units called monomers, and Lela’s research zeroed in on polystyrene, a standard polymer for academic research.

To study this polymer, Lela placed the polymer on pure silicon and then uses atomic force microscopy to obtain an accurate topography of its surface. Her research, under the guidance of Professor Ophelia Tsui, examined whether molten polymers may become solid-like when confined in nanometer films. The answer to that question would significantly affect the way we use polymers in nanoscale applications. For example, polymers that are good lubricants in the macroscopic world may lose their niche if they became a solid in the nanoworld. On the other hand, the solid-like property could greatly improve the stability of a polymer film, from a rupturing time of one day to years.

Lela was born and raised in Macedonia. She moved to New York at the age of 14, which was perhaps when the seed of her long-held interest in traveling was planted. She says she’s proud of her Macedonian heritage, but she’s also fond of the European lifestyle in general. Lela finds the social climate relaxing and the people open-minded.

When in the States, Lela trades the historic monuments and lazy cafes for the rink and the pool. She spends a good deal of time cheering on the BU hockey team, but she’s also an athlete herself. She used to be a competitive swimmer and still jumps into the pool for fun at FitRec.

Another area Lela dives into is literature. She reads vociferously, with National Geographic and books by Oscar Wilde and Paulo Coelho among her favorites. She also enjoys seeing stories take to the screen, often relishing in foreign and independent cinema.