(7bs) Exploiting Interfacial Phenomena and Non-Equilibrium Assembly in Polymeric Materials

Barteau, K. P., Cornell University
Research Interests:

Ion incorporation into and interaction with polymers has seen growing applications, from responsive hydrogels to polymer electrodes and electrolytes for energy storage. Additionally, biological systems rely on interactions between sequence specific residues in proteins and ions to dictate complex, hierarchical inorganic assemblies. Many of these interactions and assembly processes, from energy storage to biomineralization, are further complicated by interface-mediated phenomena and processes far away from equilibrium. While yet poorly understood, the ability to exploit these pathways could open up a broadly expanded class of polymer and polymer-composite materials and applications ranging from catalysis to medical devices.

My Ph.D. research at UCSB utilized tailoring the chemistries of poly(glycidyl ethers) to examine how specific functional groups influenced the ionic dissociation and transport of salts for lithium ion batteries and to provide design rules for low temperature polymer electrolytes. In my postdoctoral research at Cornell, I have expanded from chemical tailoring of bulk polymers to the development of surface modified block copolymer films for templating inorganic oxides via low-temperature approaches. Direct functionalization of the block copolymer self-assembled surfaces, with periodic structures on the order of 10-100 nm, enables the investigation of a variety of surface chemistries, domain spacings, and interface shapes on the nucleation and growth of inorganic materials. The versatility of such a platform should aid understanding of organic-inorganic, interface-driven crystallization and assembly.

Development of new materials driven by interface-mediated assembly and by pathways far from equilibrium (and their subsequent design rules) will require detailed understanding of the assembly dynamics. Integral to this will by in-situ characterization techniques, including synchrotron x-ray scattering. I will discuss my ongoing research involving in-situ wide angle xray scattering (WAXS), in-situ grazing-incidence small angle x-ray scattering (GISAXS), and small angle neutron scattering (SANS) to understand the early assembly processes from hybrid perovskite solar cells to block copolymer derived membranes.

Teaching Interests:

My goals as a teacher and mentor are to foster enthusiasm for: (1) solving engineering challenges, (2) scientific discovery, and (3) open discourse. Development of these skills in students requires not just transfer of knowledge of the fundamental principles of chemical engineering, but also exposure to real world examples, both of past and future challenges. Scientific discovery, while sometimes serendipitous, relies on formation of testable hypotheses and documentation of results and analysis. Teaching these critical analysis and problem-solving skills would extend beyond classroom and laboratory instruction to students at all levels who would work in my lab. Lastly, open discourse is a necessary skill often overlooked. The ability to effectively communicate one’s idea, hear the ideas and questions of others, and then reach better conclusions and more creative ideas is essential to all collaborative work, whatever careers students may pursue throughout their lives.