477008 Controlling the Structure of Systems Ordered via Block Copolymer Phase Separation: Simulations and Experiments

Sunday, November 13, 2016
Continental 4 & 5 (Hilton San Francisco Union Square)
Andrew Peters, Department of Chemistry, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

Research Interests:  

Block polymers and other ordered soft materials have the potential to allow a vast array of structures to be ordered at lengths scales from a few nanometers to several micrometers. This property allows for a varied range of practical applications in, for example, drug delivery, microelectronic materials, advanced plastics, and catalysis. However, only a small subset of the extensive array of possible systems have been explored. This space can best be explored with a concerted effort using both experiment and simulation. My research will start in three main areas:

  1. Ordering of nanoparticles via block polymer ligand directed assembly
  2. Phase behavior of diblock blends
  3. Development and application of protracted colored noise dynamics for polymer systems.

 1. Ordering of nanoparticles via block polymer ligand directed assembly

Nanocomposites are widely used for technological and commercial purposes and they have been ordered via a variety of methods. However, precise control is still challenging and the controlling mechanisms are still not understood. Simulations of these systems would provide a theoretical underpinning by which experimental space would be reduced, resulting in greater understanding of the critical properties more quickly.

 2. Phase behavior of diblock blends

Control of ordered block polymer structures is most commonly done via precise synthetic techniques, but blending of polymers is a significantly easier way to control structures if the process can be understood. By fundamentally understanding the effect that blends of diblocks have on morphology, domain size, and other properties, new applications and easier production methods could be discovered. 3. Protracted colored noise dynamics for polymer systems

Molecular dynamics simulations of polymeric systems are significantly limited in terms of the time and length scales that can be studied. A new technique, protracted colored noise dynamics for polymer systems is designed to efficiently sample over energy barriers and can reduce simulation time to equilibrium by more than four orders of magnitude. This technique could be adapted to work with atomistic simulations and a plethora of polymer architectures allowing access to timescales which are currently inaccessible. Systems of particular interest are semi-crystalline polymers such as polyethylene or large polymer systems such as micelle forming systems or star polymers.

Teaching Interests:

As a faculty member in a chemical engineering department, I would be pleased to teach a range of courses that combine my training with the needs of the faculty and the students. I can bring strong preparation and an enthusiastic attitude to any core chemical engineering class. Leveraging my postdoctoral and graduate research experience in polymer physics and simulations, I am also excited to develop new coursework in areas that would fit into both the undergraduate and graduate curriculum related to soft matter engineering and simulation techniques. My experience as a teaching fellow where I co-taught a numerical methods and my experience as a teaching assistant for 3 semesters which required weekly recitation sections has given me the experience I need to be an effective instructor early on.

The reason I want to be faculty is because I love to learn. I love research because it’s never-ending learning and satisfying of curiosity. In teaching I can give this love of learning to my students. By showing them my passion and enthusiasm and enjoyment of learning and of knowledge, I will promote enthusiasm and enjoyment in my students.


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