Next generation nanocomposites based on 2D polymers and 2D inorganic materials

Graphene, boron nitride, dichalcogenides and other inorganic 2D layered materials (2DLM) have atomically thin structure with unique electrical, mechanical, thermal, and optical properties, and have already been extensively explored for electronics, sensing, catalysis and biomedical applications. On the other hand, in the polymer world, there is an emerging class of 2D polymers with analog structure to 2D layered materials.

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Sedimentation of heavy particles in sheared soft particle glasses

Soft particle glasses (SPGs) are composed of elastic non-Brownian particles that are jammed beyond the packing fraction of equivalent hard spheres. SPGs show solid-like behavior at rest, and they flow when subjected to external stimuli such as shear deformation. Considering this tunable rheological property, they have been used as additives in many products such as cosmetic creams, hair gels, food products, paper coating industries, and recently it has been suggested that these suspensions can be used in the drilling muds.

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Rheological Dynamics of Liquid Crystals under Thermal Gradients

Our group has developed a rheological apparatus capable of sustaining spatial thermal gradients in shear rheometry. It is hypothesized that orthogonally superimposed thermal fields will produce linear, field-averaged rheological responses up to a threshold where anomalous, thermo-rheological dissipative phenomena will occur. The molecular influence of heat flow, especially at reduced dimensions, is from entropy production.

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Synthesis and Characterization of (Potentially Novel) Elastomeric Compounds

Our group has recently discovered a material system that potentially may have elastomeric properties. The Internation Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) defines an elastomer as a polymer that displays rubber-like elasticity, i.e. high viscoelasticity with weak intermolecular forces. We are seeking a highly motivated and ambitious student to assist us in exploring this material system for its potential elastomeric properties and to help us elucidate the rational design of such a material system through characterization of the material properties of various molecular constructs.

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Rheological Dynamics of Cellulose Nanocrystal Suspensions under Thermal Gradients

Our group has developed a rheological apparatus capable of sustaining spatial thermal gradients in shear rheometry. It is hypothesized that orthogonally superimposed thermal fields will produce linear, field-averaged rheological responses up to a threshold where anomalous, thermo-rheological dissipative phenomena will occur. The molecular influence of heat flow, especially at reduced dimensions, is from entropy production. Translational and orientational motions evolve as a molecular compensation mechanism.

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Microfluidic Reactor Design for Helicene Synthesis

Helicenes are polycyclic aromatic compounds which are formed by ortho-fused aromatic rings that generate a non-planar, screw-shaped, three-dimensional structure that is inherently chiral and spring-like. The helical topology significantly contributes to the emergent properties of helicenes and has been garnering interest in the fields of nanotechnology, macromolecular and materials science.

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Effect of nano-confinement on the thermodynamics of ionic liquids

Ionic liquids (ILs) are defined as salts that melt at or below 373 K. A typical IL is composed of a bulky organic cation and an inorganic or organic anion. As a group, many ILs tend to be miscible with many organic solvents. They show low vapor pressure, high viscosity and low degree of toxicity. At low temperatures ILs do not crystallize; instead, they form a glassy phase, while at high temperatures they flow with high viscosity, which is due to the strong electrostatic interactions between cations and anions.

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Design of polyester scaffolds for encapsulation and release of therapeutics

The Joy Lab has developed a platform of polyesters and polyurethanes that are being utilized for the incorporation and sustained delivery of therapeutics. The undergraduate student working on the project will work specifically towards the synthesis of the polymers, incorporation of the therapeutic within the polymer and analyze the release kinetics. The student will gain experience in synthesis and characterization of polymers and in the analysis and interpretation of experimental data.

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Wearable Health Sensors

Our team has developed flexible, lightweight fabric materials that can selectively determine physiological information from sweat forming on the surface of the skin. The technology is the first lightweight fabric sensor to provide real-time information regarding hydration levels during exercise or training through selective determination of sodium ion levels.

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Effect of Nanofiber layer patterned stripes on filter performance

Nanofibers have different wetting properties than glass fibers used in common filter media. Recent works with modifying surface properties of filter media shows non-wetting chemical coatings applied in striped patterns can improve performance of coalescing filters. The hypothesis for this work is the nanofibers which enhance wetting properties and droplet capture will similary improve filter performance if applied in striped patterns.

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Biomass-based Fillers for Polymers

Pyrolyzed (process of low or no oxygen thermal decomposition –carbonization- to convert biomass into clean and renewable carbon products) biomass obtained from agricultural products such as soybean hulls, sorghum etc., is used as a renewable, low cost and eco-friendly material which has large potential for reinforcement or functionality-inducing (such as electrical, thermal conductivity) filler for polymeric materials.

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Tuning intermolecular distance to achieve tunable fluorescence

Controlling and measuring the intermolecular distance in supramolecular structures are important as well as challenaging. To achive both at the same time, we are chemically incorporating an aggregation-induced emission (AIE) luminophore into a charged macromoleculre, which can self-assemble into stable supramolecular structures of different intermolecular distances through the careful regulation of the physical interactions between the building blocks.

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Photolytically degradable, hydrolytically degradable, and chemically recyclable commodity plastics

“White pollution” is a problem of massive scale. To replace the current nondegradable commodity plastics with degradable plastics, a key challenge is that the new raw materials must be readily available at costs comparable to current monomers such as ethylene and propylene. Low-carbon footprint is highly desirable for these raw materials in order to achieve overall environmental sustainability.

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Bioinspired Surfaces for Ice Adhesion and Friction

Understanding the physical and chemical interactions between ice and materials is of interest in order to tune adhesion and friction on ice to meet various material demands. For example, it is important for tires to have good traction on ice and snow, and low ice adhesion coatings are needed for applications on aircraft, power lines, wind turbines, and costal structures/ships. This project aims to find specific material surface properties in nature that have been evolved to either increase or decrease ice nucleation, adhesion, and/or friction.

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Biomimetic Structures for Impact Protection

The concept of biomimicry is solving problems and creating new opportunities through understanding and applying biological models. Very often, innovation inspired by nature and careful examination of the natural world are potential ways to seek solution to real-world problems. In this project, students will conduct experimental testing and computational analysis at Prof. K.T. Tan’s Advanced Metacomposites Laboratory to investigate the amazing structure of biological models.

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Advanced Composite Materials in Extreme Environment

Composite materials are commonly employed in modern aircraft structures and in many aerospace applications like engine casing, fan-blades, etc. This is attributed to their high strength-weight ratio and high stiffness-weight ratio, making composites extremely light, yet exceptionally strong. However, the use of composites makes them susceptible to damage, which could result in complex failure mechanisms like delamination, matrix cracking, fiber debonding, fiber fracture, etc.

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Mechanochemistry of a helical metal-ligand complex

Mechanical stress is ubiquitously present in materials and biological systems, and the force-induced bond scission and materials failure have been extensively studied. In recent years, utilizing mechanical force to do targeted and constructive chemistry, largely fueled by the concept of mechanophore, i.e., stress-responsive moiety, has become a new trend.

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