The Fall 2021 MatSE 590 for graduate students consists of an exciting and jam-packed schedule. MATSE 590 is a colloquium (1-3 credits) consist of a series of individual lectures by faculty, students, or outside speakers.
Graduate students will receive a weekly email with information via @psu.edu email. Graduate students are required to attend all 590 Seminars. If you have any questions, please email Hayley Barnes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Due to the ongoing Covid Pandemic this program is being offered virtually through Zoom. Please reference the weekly email from Hayley Barnes (email@example.com) for Zoom link.
September 2, 2021
"Non-Equilibrium Processes and Reactions to Control Polymer Material Structure and Function"
Robert Hickey, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Penn State
The diversity and vastness in the types of properties of living systems, including enhanced mechanical properties of skin and bone, or responsive optical properties derived from structural coloration, are a result of the multiscale, hierarchical structure of the materials. The field of materials chemistry has leveraged equilibrium concepts to create complex materials seen in nature, yet achieving the remarkable properties seen in nature requires moving beyond this formalism by utilizing non-equilibrium chemical processes to create new and exciting materials. Here, the presentation will cover two areas of research that my group has pioneered in which non-equilibrium concepts have been used to create hierarchically ordered and functional polymer materials. The first part focuses on creating physically crosslinked hydrogels using amphiphilic triblock copolymers that will rapidly self-assemble when injected into water. We have established a universal and quantitative method for fabricating and controlling physically crosslinked hydrogels exhibiting hierarchical ordering and structural color using a solvent-non-solvent rapid-injection process. The second part of the presentation describes how varying in situ polymerization procedures enables new opportunities to control nanoparticle dispersion in polymer matrices in reactive systems. Specifically, I will show how to synthesize hybrid polymer/nanoparticle materials in which nanoparticles are either well-dispersed or aggregated by tailoring the polymerization chemistry to promote desired reaction pathways and phase transitions. The work presented here highlights that by harnessing non-equilibrium methods, it is possible to create materials with controlled structures ranging from the nanometer to the micrometer and properties.
Prof. Robert Hickey is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University. He received his B.S. and Ph.D. in Chemistry at Widener University (2007) and the University of Pennsylvania (2013), respectively. At Penn, he worked in the laboratory of Prof. So-Jung Park, and researched how to control the morphology and materials properties of colloidal aggregates composed of inorganic nanoparticles and amphiphilic diblock copolymers. As a postdoctoral researcher, he worked in the labs of Profs. Frank Bates and Tim Lodge at the University of Minnesota. At Minnesota, his research focused on fundamentally understanding the self-assembly and phase behavior of ternary polymer blends, as well as on applying these principles to ternary polymer electrolyte systems. The Hickey group investigates non-equilibrium chemical and self-assembly methods to create nanostructured polymeric materials. Robert has been awarded the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Prize and the NSF CAREER Award.