The goals of my research are to develop materials with tailored properties through a detailed understanding and manipulation of molecular level structure, synthesis and most uniquely processing methodologies. While the importance of structure-property correlations for materials has been recognized, the importance of processing conditions on the evolution of structure and hence properties in the case of soft materials have not been fully understood.

Resulting from the long-chain nature, high viscosities, low diffusion coefficients and rapid vitrification or crystallization, the structure and properties of polymeric materials are significantly affected by their processing. We are pursuing a detailed research program, in collaboration with researchers in industry and national laboratories, to address the role of processing on the structure and properties of multi-phase polymers including polymer blends, block copolymers and microemulsions. Specific research focuses on understanding traditional polyolefin and polydiene materials and developing amphiphilic block, graft and star polymers for a number of technological applications.

The potential for the use of highly anisotropic nanoparticles such as layered silicates and carbon nanotubes dispersed in polymeric matrices promises the ability to develop combinations of physical, mechanical and thermal properties while not increasing weight and thus a new paradigm in materials technology. We have focused our efforts in developing fundamental understanding of the dispersion of the nanoparticles, characterization methodologies that span from the nano to macro length scales, develop correlations to properties and understand how processing can lead to unique microstructures and properties. Specific research focuses on light weighting automobile parts, developing super-strong fibers, strengthened elastomers, materials for fuel cells, longer life lithium ion batteries and improved materials for tissue replacement.

Five main projects that are pursued in my research group are:

+ Effect of pressure on the phase behavior of polyolefin blends

+ Polymer crystallinity in bulk and thin films

+ Phase transitions in block copolymers and block copolymer based balanced microemulsions

+ Structure and viscoelasticity of macro- and nano-composites

+ Structure and transport in biopolymers

For current projects click here