David Saint John, a 2012 MatSC grad and instructor in Penn State's College of...
Researchers in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MATSE) at Penn State have published their work on the cover of the latest issue of ACS Macro Letters, a new journal in polymer science. Learn more>>
The research group of Materials Science and Engineering Assistant Professor Mike Hickner continues to explore new surface coatings and ionic membranes for antifouling and water treatment applications. Their work, funded by the U.S. Navy, seeks to develop new polymers that resist protein adhesion and biofouling through tuning the hydration and surface chemistry of polymers.
The Separation of Oil or Tar from Sand Using Ionic Liquids
Dr. Paul Painter, Penn State University
Mike Hickner received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Michigan Technological University (Michigan Tech) and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). In graduate school he worked under the direction of James E. McGrath and also spent time at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Before joining Penn State as an Assistant Professor in 2007, he was a postdoc and subsequently became a staff member at Sandia National Laboratories. Professor Hickner’s research and teaching interests include all aspects of polymeric materials, polymer micro- and nano-structure, transport characterization, spectroscopy, electrochemistry, and new materials for energy applications.
Research in the Hickner group probes the connection between the molecular identity, nanophase structure, and the resulting transport properties in polymeric materials. Our activities are motivated by application-specific needs that drive fundamental investigations into new materials chemistry and demand incisive measurements of the structure and transport properties of novel materials. We characterize technologically important materials and synthesize model materials systems to probe specific structural and property questions.
A significant thrust in our group is directed towards the study of ion-containing polymers that form robust membranes and absorb water. These types of materials are the basic functional units of solid-state electrochemical systems such as fuel cells and electrolyzers and enable water treatment technologies such as nanofiltration and reverse osmosis. The binding and diffusion of the absorbed water internal to the membrane structure and the interactions between the polymer, ions, and water are important aspects of these materials which ties the transport properties to the nano-scale and molecular features.
We employ tools such as impedance spectroscopy, NMR, TEM, AFM, vibrational spectroscopy, calorimetry, and scattering to probe the structure and transport in multiphase polymeric materials. Our team is composed of a diverse group of materials scientists, chemists, and engineers with wide ranging skills in synthesis, advanced experimental technique development, and analytical analysis. Ultimately, the goal of our group’s work is to have impact on novel applications of polymer membranes and to uncover the fundamental factors that influence the structure and resulting properties of polymeric materials.
Selected from over 65 with more than 3200 citations - full list
Gross, M. L., K. R. Zavadil, M. A. Hickner, “Chemical Mapping and Electrical Conductivity of Carbon Nanotube Patterned Arrays,” J. Mater. Chem. 2011, DOI:10.1039/C1JM11107H.
Kim, S., T. Tighe, B. Schwenzer, J. Yan, J. Zhang, J. Liu, Z. Yang, M. A. Hickner, “Chemical and Mechanical Degradation of Sulfonated Poly(sulfone) Membranes in Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries,” J. Appl Electrochem. 2011, DOI:10.1007/s10800-011-0313-0.
Xie, H., T. Saito, M. A. Hickner, “Zeta Potential of Ion-Conductive Membranes by Streaming Current Measurements,” Langmuir 2011, 27(8), 4721–4727.
Mendoza, A. J., M. A. Hickner, J. Morgan, K. Rutter, C. Legzdins, “Raman Spectroscopic Mapping of the Carbon and PTFE Distribution in Gas Diffusion Layers,” Fuel Cells 2011, 11(2), 248-254.
Elabd, Y. A., M. A. Hickner, “Block Copolymers for Fuel Cells,” Macromolecules 2011, 44(1), 1-11.
Saito, T., T. H. Roberts, T. E. Long, B. E. Logan, M. A. Hickner, “Neutral Hydrophilic Cathode Catalyst Binders for Microbial Fuel Cells,” Energ. Environ. Sci. 2011, 4(3), 928-934.
Lee, D. K., T. Saito, A. J. Benesi, M. A. Hickner, H. R. Allcock, “Characterization of Water in Proton Conducting Membranes by Deuterium NMR T1 Relaxation,” J. Phys. Chem. B. 2011, 115(5), 776–783.
Vaughn, D., R. Patel, M. A. Hickner, R. E. Schaak, “Single Crystal Colloidal Nanosheets of GeS and GeSe,” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2010, 132(43), 15170–15172.
Kim, S., J. Yan, B. Schwenzer, J. Zhang, L. Li, J. Liu, Z. Yang, M. A. Hickner, “Investigation of Sulfonated Poly(phenylsulfone) Membrane for Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries,” Electrochem. Comm. 2010, 12, 1650–1653.
Schaefer, Z. L., M. L. Gross, M. A. Hickner, R. E. Schaak, “Uniform Hollow C-Shells: Nano-Engineered Graphitic Supports for Improved Oxygen Reduction Catalysis,” Angew. Chemie Int. Ed. 2010, 49(39), 7045-704.
Moore, H. D., T. Saito, M. A. Hickner “Morphology and Transport Properties of Midblock-sulfonated Triblock Copolymers,” J. Mater. Chem. 2010, 20, 6316-6321.
Hickner, M. A., “Ion-Containing Polymers: Functional Materials for New Energy and Clean Water,” Materials Today 2010, 13(5), 34-41.
Yan, J., M. A. Hickner “Anion Exchange Membranes by Bromination of Benzylmethyl-containing Poly(sulfone)s,” Macromolecules 2010, 43, 2349–2356.
Xu, K., K. Li, C. S. Ewing, M. A. Hickner, Q. Wang, “Synthesis of Proton Conductive Polymers with High Electrochemical Selectivity,” Macromolecules 2010, 43 (4), 1692–1694.
Saito, T., H. D. Moore, M. A. Hickner, “Synthesis of Mid-block Sulfonated Triblock Copolymers,” Macromolecules 2010, 43 (2), 599-601.
Mangiagli, P. M., C. S. Ewing, K. Xu, Q. Wang, M. A. Hickner, “Dynamic Water Uptake of Flexible Ion-Containing Polymer Networks,” Fuel Cells 2009, 9(4), 432-438.
Song, Y., M. A. Hickner, S. R. Challa, R. M. Dorin, R. M. Garcia, H. Wang, Y.-B. Jiang, P. Li, Y. Qiu, F. van Swol, C. J. Medforth, J. E. Miller, T. Nwoga, K. Kawahara, W. Li, J. A. Shelnutt, “Evolution of Dendritic Platinum Nanosheets Into Ripening-Resistant Holey Sheets,” Nano Letters 2009, 9(4), 1534-1539.
Professor Manias received his B.S. degree in Physics from the Aristotle U in Thessaloniki, Greece, and his Ph.D. in Chemistry from U. of Groningen, the Netherlands. He subsequently carried out postdoctoral research in the Materials Science and Engineering department at Cornell U, before joining Penn State as an assistant professor in 1998. His research combines theoretical, simulation, and experimental approaches focused on explaining how nanoscale structures affect the macroscopic materials properties in multi-phase polymer systems, and on further designing appropriate structures and functionalities that lead to high-performance novel materials.
Professor Manias’ research focuses on the development of new high performance polymer and polymer-composite materials, with approaches spanning the range from basic-science fundamentals to engineering development of materials designed for specific applications. All of these research efforts exploit the unique opportunities of nanoscale structures and nanoscopic components in polymer and organic materials.
More specifically, examples of recent work in Professor Manias’ research group include: (a) development of high performance polymer/inorganic nanocomposites, involving synthesis, processing, fundamental physics, and engineering design approaches; (b) atomic force microscopy (AFM) studies of polymer surfaces and polymer nanostructures, including he development of new state-of-the-art instruments and modifications of AFM modes of operation; (c) fundamental understanding of nanoscopically confined polymer electrolytes and lubricants, based on molecular modeling; and (d) design and syntheses of smart polymers that respond to external stimuli –such as temperature, electric fields, and pH– and applications of these smart materials in biomedical and surface applications.
A unique feature of Manias’ research group approach in its investigations is the concurrent in-depth employment of polymer physics, molecular modeling computer simulations, synthetic chemistry, and engineering approaches –design, processing, characterization, structure-property relations, and application-driven materials development. The feedback and cross-fertilization between fundamental science, computer modeling, and engineering approaches offers unprecedented opportunities for fast progress in research, and to date has yielded diverse results that were featured in eminent scientific journals of physics, polymers, and engineering, new technologies that were patented, and new advances in materials that were featured in popularized-science books and magazines.
James Runt is currently Professor of Polymer Science in the MatSE Department at Penn State. Dr. Runt is the author of >180 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineers. He is an editor of the ACS Professional Reference Series book: Dielectric Spectroscopy of Polymeric Materials: Fundamentals and Applications, and is a co-editor of the recent ACS Symposium Series book: Polymers for Energy Storage and Delivery: Polyelectrolytes for Batteries and Fuel Cells. He recently served on the Editorial Advisory Board of the journal Macromolecules, and is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Dielectrics Society. Dr. Runt received his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees at Penn State, the latter in Solid State Science (with a concentration in polymeric materials).
Broadband dielectric spectroscopy; polymer dynamics
Ion-containing polymers: electrolytes, ionomers
Segmented polyurethane and polyurea block copolymers
Hydrogen bonded polymer blends and solutions
Polymers with intrinsic microporosity (PIMs)
Crystalline polymers, from renewable resources
Nanoscale structure and morphology
Our group’s research is focused on three principle areas:
Polymers in energy applications; Polyurethanes and polyureas; Li ion battery electrolytes; Ionomers; Polymers of intrinsic microporosity; Blood-contacting polymers in biomedical devices; Polymer blends/alloys; High performance polymers.
The research programs in my laboratory are centered on using chemical and material engineering approaches towards the development of novel functional polymers and polymer nanocomposites with unique electronic, photonic and transport properties. The projects aim to improve fundamental understanding of polymers and polymer nanocomposites by investigating how molecular and multiple-scale assembled structures influence macroscopic physical properties. The research is highly multidisciplinary at the interface of several fields, including polymer and materials chemistry, structural characterization, materials processing, physical property measurement, and device engineering. Current interests involve the molecularly engineering dielectric properties of ferroelectric polymers for high-energy-density capacitors, developing polymer membranes with superb proton conductivity and electrochemical selectivity for fuel cells, and enhancing charge mobility in conjugate polymers for high-efficiency photovoltaic cells.
We are developing organic-inorganic hybrid nanostructures by incorporating inorganic nanoparticles into polymer matrix. These hybrids allow the remarkable physical properties of organic materials to be combined with their inorganic counterparts, thus presenting great opportunities for synergistic properties. By varying macromolecular architecture and utilizing the tailored interactions such as hydrogen bonding, molecular recognition, electrostatic, or dipolar associations, the nanoscopic organization and composition of functional components can be controlled to tune the functionality and property of the resulting composites. For instance, polymer nanocomposites have been prepared using ferroelectric polymers and surface-functionalized TiO2 and BaTiO3 nanoparticles. Substantial enhancements in electric displacement and energy density due to the interfacial polarization and the exchange coupling effect have been demonstrated in the nanocomposites. This work opens a new route towards high-performance dielectric nanocomposites by judiciously selecting a combination of polymer matrix and nanoparticles with balanced dielectric properties.
capacitors, photovoltaic cells, fuel cells, actuators, coatings, sensors, organic electronics, and polymer synthesis.
Professor Colina obtained her Ph.D. at the North Carolina State University (2004) and her B.S. (1993) and M.Sc. (1994) at Simón Bolívar University. She was a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has been a faculty member at Simón Bolívar University and joined the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Pennsylvania State University as Associate Professor in July 2006. She won the 1999 Award for Outstanding Teaching Achievement (at the Assistant Professor level) at Simon Bolivar University, as well as several other awards from the Venezuelan's National Committees from the Development of Higher Education and for the Academic Advancement. She has several international collaborations and has presented the results of her research globally in more than 65 national and international conferences. She has published over 35 papers (including conference proceedings).
Professor Colina utilizes the fusion of materials and computational sciences to obtain solutions to problems that were previously intractable. This fusion creates the opportunity to engineer materials for applications to separations, sensors, microelectronics, drug delivery, and biomaterials. Her group uses materials theory, modeling and computer simulation, with methods ranging from molecular-based equations of state, with a rigorous statistical mechanics basis, to high-performance computer modeling. Her group also has a synergetic relationship with experimentalists, and several national and international collaborative programs, such as: The University of Manchester and Cardiff University, U.K. Professor Colina’s current areas of research fall into three areas. The first area aims for understanding the structure of nanoporous polymers (NPs) for use in applications that exploit their surface chemistry that can range from catalysis, sensors and gas storage to separations. The second area is the improvement of polymer-based processes by gaining a fundamental understanding of polymeric materials. She is developing new methodologies for predicting the effect of specific interactions (self and cross-association) of polymeric materials and their environment. The third area is certain aspects of human pathology associated with a number of diseases, such as hemophilia B and von Willebrand disease. She is studying the growth and dynamics of macromolecular aggregates when proteins dock in a highly orientated manner. Her research interests in this area span a wide range of applications, from structural biochemistry to biosensors.
- Latexes and suspensions
- Environmentally-friendly polymeric surfactants
- Targeting and releasing drugs
- Biomedical applications
1. Castro-Marcano, F., Olivera-Fuentes, C. and C. M. Colina, “Joule-Thomson Inversion Curves aand Third Virial Coefficients for Pure Fluids from Molecular-Based Models,” Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., 47 (22), 8894–8905 (2008).
2. Hoffman, M., Colina, C. M., Harger, A. G., Arepally, G., Pedersen, L. and D. M. Monroe, “Tissue Factor Around Dermal Vessels has Bound Factor VII(a) in the Absence of Injury,” Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis, 5 (7),1403-1408 (2007).
3. Colina, C. M., Venkateswarlu, D., Duke, R., Perera, L. and L. G. Pedersen, “What Causes the Enhancement of Activity of FVIIa by Tissue factor?,” Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis, 4 (12), 2726-2729 (2006).
4. Colina, C. M. and K. E. Gubbins, “Vapor-Liquid-Liquid Equilibria of n-Perfluoroalkanes/Carbon Dioxide/n-Alkanes Ternary Mixtures,” J. Phys. Chem. B. 109, 2899-2910 (2005).
5. Walker, T. A., Colina, C. M., Gubbins, K. E. and R. J. Spontak, “Thermodynamics of Poly(dimethylsiloxane)/Poly(ethylmethylsiloxane) (PDMS/PEMS) Blends in the Presence of High-Pressure CO2,” Macromolecules, 37, 2588-2595 (2004).
Ralph H. Colby received his B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from Cornell University in 1979. After working for two years at the General Electric Company in rheology research and process development, he attended graduate school at Northwestern University, where he received his M.S. and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering in 1983 and 1985. Graduate research focused on rheology of linear polybutadiene melts and solutions, and included 15 months as a visiting scholar in the Exxon Research and Engineering Company, Corporate Research - Science Laboratories. He then worked for ten years at the Eastman Kodak Company in their Corporate Research Laboratories. Rheology research areas over these ten years included linear polymer melts and solutions, miscible polymer blends, block copolymers, randomly branched polymers, polymer gels, liquid crystalline polymers, polyelectrolytes, proteins, surfactants and colloidal suspensions. In 1995, Dr. Colby was hired as Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University and was promoted to Professor in 2000. He teaches an undergraduate course on Polymer Processing and a graduate course on Polymer Physics. Dr. Colby has over 130 publications and published a textbook Polymer Physics in 2003.
Professor Colby’s research group is interested in a molecular-level understanding of dynamics in interesting liquids. Polymer liquids are good examples because they are viscoelastic: While polymer liquids do flow, they have considerable elastic character. Other examples include many “complex fluids” such as liquid crystals and surfactants. The Colby group measures the dynamics of these liquids using mechanical rheology and dielectric spectroscopy and also characterizes the liquid structure using neutron and x-ray scattering and optical methods. This is classical materials science research on structure-property relations but at the same time is highly innovative because it is applied to the liquid state! One nice example is the study of ion transport in ionomer membranes. Ionomers are polymers with one type of ion covalently bonded to the chain and are ‘single-ion conductors’ in that only the unattached counterions can move rapidly in response to an applied electric field. Designing ionomers for facile ion transport is challenging and the Colby group is attacking this problem with ab initio calculations of ion interactions that guides our synthesis of new ionomers. We use small-angle X-ray scattering (picture above), mechanical rheology and dielectric spectroscopy to understand what the ions are doing in these new ionomers. We quantify the temperature dependences of the fraction of ions in ion pairs, conducting triple ions and quadrupoles, for different ionomers with various counterions (figure below). There are a great many interesting liquids known in the world today and more are being discovered every day. The Colby group’s mission is to understand in detail the structure-property relations of all interesting liquids. This is a great challenge and as such, only the best highly motivated students are able to participate in this exciting mission.
Polymer dynamics, characterized by rheology, plays a vital role in solution and melt processing of polymers. Ion-containing polymers are a poorly understood class of materials that are potentially very important for actuators, sensors, separators between the electrodes of advanced batteries and fuel cell membranes.
David Saint John, a 2012 MatSC grad and instructor in Penn State's College of...
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