Polymer Physics

Molecular Modeling of Elasticity of Spider Silk and Related Biopolymers (TA / FA)

In this project, the aim is to understand quantitatively the molecular elasticity of biopolymers with potential engineering applications. The first example is Spider Dragline Silk, which may be several times stronger than steel (after normalizing the density). The work involves experimental, computational and theoretical analyses of the molecular structure of the biopolymer system.

Accurate Molecular Models for Real Polymers (TA/FA)

We develop useable, closed form, but accurate molecular models as well as elasticity relationships for real polymers, incorporating structural aspects.

The applications include synthetic as well as high performance Bio-sourced polymers.

Polymer Dynamics in Turbulent Flows

Adding even a small amount of dissolved polymer into a fluid can have a dramatic impact on the way it flows. If the flow is turbulent (high-Reynolds-number) to begin with, then the polymer can strongly modify the turbulent eddies and reduce the drag force (in flow through pipes) or even make the flow laminar. Known as the Toms effect, this phenomena is exploited to reduce the pumping costs associated with transporting oil in pipelines. Polymers can also destabilize a low-Reynolds-number steady flow and make it unsteady and chaotic.

Accurate Molecular Models for Real Polymers (TA/FA)

We develop compact, closed form, but accurate molecular models as well as elasticity relationships for real polymers, incorporating structural aspects.

The applications include synthetic as well as high performance Bio-sourced polymers.

Molecular Modeling of Elasticity of Spider Silk and Related Biopolymers (TA / FA)

In this project, the aim is to understand quantitatively the molecular elasticity of biopolymers with potential engineering applications. The first example is Spider Dragline Silk, which may be several times stronger than steel (after normalizing the density). The work involves experimental, computational and theoretical analyses of the molecular structure of the biopolymer system.

Multiscale Investigations on Polymeric NEMS (Nano-Electro-Mechanical-Systems) (TA / FA)

Modeling and Experiments (Nanoindentation, etc.) on Polymeric Materials to develop an understanding of relevant aspects for NEMS Applications

Structure and water transport through block copolymers with a hydrophilic block

Block copolymers are polymers comprised of “blocks” of different monomeric units connected together. Block copolymers with precisely tailored molecular structure, viz. molecular weight and connectivity of the blocks represent functional materials with remarkable properties. These materials find use in challenging applications, such as membranes for separations. This project is focused on investigations of block copolymers with glassy styrenic blocks connected to hydrophilic sulphonated blocks.

Polymer-grafted nanoparticles

Composites of polymer and nanoparticles have many property improvements compared to pure polymer.  These include improvements in mechanical strength, thermal conductivity, electrical conductivity, optical properties, and photoelectric properties.  However, the mixing of polymer with nanoparticles often poses a problem.  To over come this issue and others, there have been recent efforts toward the synthesis of polymer-grafted nanoparticles.  These new types of species show interesting phase behavior - often forming new types of self-assembled phases with new interesting properties (https://p

Gelation and network formation in polymer-grafted nanoparticles

Some initial work in our group, and from other groups suggests that polymer-grafted nanoparticles can for networks and equilibrium gels under the right conditions.  This is remarkable, since while gels are useful most gels represent non-equilibrium states that age, and disintegrate with time.  The idea of forming equilibrium gels which are non-perishable, is therefore attractive.  In this study we determine the conditions for the formation of equilibrium gels by grafted nanoparticles.

A basic understanding of coding is required.

Polymer grafted nanoparticles as separation and fuel cell membranes

Polymer membranes are popular in separation and fuel cell applications.  Moreover, nanoparticle-filled polymer membranes can simultaneously improve properties such as permeability and selectivity.  The challenge lies in stabilizing these membranes against phase separation.  Recent progress in grafting polymer onto the surface of nanoparticles may mitigate some of these challenges.  This project uses statistical mechanics to study the efficacy of grafted nanoparticles as effective membrane materials.

Basic programming ability is needed.