PASRC's multidisciplinary webinar is a monthly webinar organized by the PASRC's Research Committee. It aims to promote African research teams and foster multidisciplinary collaboration between them. During these sessions, the speaker provides an overview of his/her work, or his/her team's research, keeping in mind the multidisciplinary audience and perspective.
Title: Soft Matter Phase Transformations: Confinement Effects and Technological Impact
The impact of polymers on our daily lives will continue to increase as they enable new technologies in medicine, as drug delivery vehicles; communications, as thin-film devices; energy, as plastic solar cells; sustainability, as membranes for water purification; food, as smart coatings for preservation; and numerous others. Many of these innovations derive form and function from the geometric confinement of polymers to the nanoscale, including thin films, nanoparticles, and nanocomposites. Yet, in confinement, polymer properties can be profoundly different from the unconfined state. Understanding why polymer properties, particularly phase transitions and physical properties, are altered in confinement is a central theme in modern soft matter science with overwhelming technological implications. In response, we develop novel methods to investigate the physics of confined polymers to uncover new insights critical to predicting properties. We also aim to create disruptive technologies exploiting the unique features of polymeric nanomaterials. In this presentation, I will share three recent projects from my groups: i) a new creep method for nanoscale characterization of polymer thin films, ii) a new method to produce structured polymer nanoparticles, and iii) a multi-layer polymer film for water purification.
Rodney D Priestley is the Vice Dean for Innovation at Princeton University. He is the Pomeroy Betty Perry Smith Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and the Associate Director of the Princeton Center for Complex Materials. He obtained his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University in 2008. His research involves describing and developing complex materials, especially nanoparticles, thin polymer films, and nanocomposites, focusing on material properties at small length scales. From designing next-generation biocompatible surfactants to creating ultra-stable polymer films resistant to properties changes upon heating, his work impacts industries ranging from personal care to aerospace. His recent interests include the use of polymers in sustainability and their implications on the environment. Recent recognitions include the 2020 American Physical Society Dillon Medal and 2020 American Chemical Society Macro Letters-Biomacromolecules-Macromolecules Young Investigator Award.