Analysis and Optimization of Polymer Networks for Emerging Applications 2016
Polymers are ubiquitous in our world. Many applications require the use of materials with lightweight, but high mechanical strength. For this purpose, polymer networks are made by interconnecting the individual polymer fibers. To enable the fabrication of network materials with fewer defects and superior properties, Professors Johnson and Olsen of Massachusetts Institute of Technology seek to develop experimental and theoretical strategies for preparing new polymer networks and understanding their structures at the molecular level. The project aims to gain important fundamental knowledge for guiding the design of next-generation materials for biomedical applications, light harvesting, and membrane technology. The broader impacts of the project involve interdisciplinary research training of graduate and undergraduate students through a strong collaboration between experiment and theory. The research team also develops hands-on teaching modules on polymer gels for middle school students.