Fourth-year PhD student Kiersten Batzli, working on the characteristics of protein aggregation and how to make proteins behave in useful ways, notes that the interdisciplinary nature of MSE makes it possible for students to work on many very different projects. “Physics, biology, chemistry and all sorts of engineering disciplines come into the mix,” she says. “A lot of the work is very cutting-edge and it’s fun to chat with friends about what they’re working on.”
First year graduate student and Rackham Merit Fellow Andre Thompson is working on a project characterizing structural changes that arise in the polyethylene oxide-polypropylene oxide-polyethylene oxide (PEO-PPO-PEO) amphiphilic triblock copolymers (commercially known as Pluronics) as a function of temperature through differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). He also is measuring how adding small amounts of methyl paraben perturb the structure and the driving force for micelle formation in aqueous PEO-PPO-PEO solutions with different block lengths.
During his time as a graduate student in MSE, alumnus Kevin Grossklaus worked on projects centered on semiconductor nanomaterials, including using focused ion beams to create unique semiconductor nanostructures and characterized them using a variety of techniques. “I was able to carry out complex and cutting edge research without having to leave campus, because of the extensive experimental facilities and equipment available and the large number of faculty with varied expertise,” he notes.
Susan Gentry’s MSE research project was in the emerging field of 3D printing, with her research guiding ongoing work at several companies. “The opportunity to closely collaborate with industry provided invaluable professional experience,” says Gentry, who earned her PhD last summer and is now doing postdoctoral research.
Some recent student publications in high-impact journals:
|Hyunjoon Oh - Nature Materials|
Considerable effort has been invested toward understanding the properties of functional nanostructured polymer-based materials formechanical, biomedical, or electronic applications. Although these systems exhibit properties that are significantly different from the polymer host, mechanisms responsible for changes in the properties are still not well understood. It is shown in this article that the relaxation dynamics of polymer nanocomposites, prepared from athermal mixtures of unentangled polystyrene and polystyrene-grafted gold nanoparticles, can be tailored by over an order of magnitude through accurate control of the structure and interactions at the nanoscale.
Gibum Kwon - Nature Communications
In this work, we developed the first-ever solely gravity-driven methodologies for the separation of any type of oil-water mixture, including surfactant-stabilized emulsions, with greater than 99.9% efficiency. Our separation methodology uses only gravity and consequently it is expected to be one of the most cost-effective and energy-efficient ways to separate oil-water mixtures. We also developed a continuous flow system that can separate oil-water emulsions for over 100 hours without a decrease in flux. We envision that our separation methodology will have a wide range of commercial applications including clean up of marine oil-spills, wastewater treatment, fuel purification and the separation of numerous commercially relevant emulsions.
Onas Bolton - Nature Chemistry
Michigan Engineering researchers have developed a new class of material that shines with phosphorescence---a property that has previously been seen only in non-organic compounds or organometallics. The researchers made metal-free organic crystals that are white in visible light and radiate blue, green, yellow and orange when triggered by ultraviolet light. By changing the materials' chemical composition, the researchers can make them emit different colors.
The new luminous materials, or phosphors, could improve upon current organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) and solid-state lighting. Michigan Engineering researchers have developed a new class of material that shines with phosphorescence---a property that has previously been seen only in non-organic compounds or organometallics.The researchers made metal-free organic crystals that are white in visible light and radiate blue, green, yellow and orange when triggered by ultraviolet light. By changing the materials' chemical composition, the researchers can make them emit different colors.The new luminous materials, or phosphors, could improve upon current organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) and solid-state lighting.
Chris Nelson - Science
Ferroelectric materials provide a possible route to ultra high-density, non-volatile memories. When subjected to an electric field they change their polar orientation, thereby “remembering” the field’s direction. However, the process is very sensitive to defects and difficult to study due to the nanometer size scale at which they operate. Researchers at the University of Michigan lead by Dr. Xiaoqing Pan were able to observe ferroelectric switching within a transmission electron microscope (TEM), one of the very few instruments capable of resolving such small-scale phenomenon. They were able to show the exact domain formation process, including the arresting of the switched material against defect planes. With a detailed picture of nanoscale ferroelectric switching and defect interactions they hope that ferrolectric memories can be refined and achieve wide-spread adoption.