Systematic nanomaterials are in great demand to study the structure performance relationship in energy storage and conversion devices.The equilibrium self-assembly of block copolymers results different morphologies that hinder the access to systematically tunable architectures with constant morphologies(“isomorphic”). In my first project, I overcame this limitation by developing a new nano-fabrication tool named persistent micelle templating (PMT) which uses kinetically controlled micelles to form isomorphic architectures. These architectures enable independent control over wall thickness and pore diameter which can be used as model systems to systematically study the device performance. Towards this end, a new block copolymer poly(ethylene oxide-b-hexyl acrylate) PEO-b-PHA was synthesized and solution conditions were explored to make kinetically controlled micelles. .
A unique challenge that comes with this kinetically controlled micelle systems is the difficulty to change the micelle size as needed in a timely manner. In my second project, this challenge was resolved with ultrasonic cavitation by switching the micelle size in minutes by introducing persistent but switchable micelle entrapment. Collectively, kinetic control of block copolymer micelles has enabled to access a wide range of pore diameters (20- 80 nm) and wall thicknesses (10- 55 nm) with constant morphology.
In my third project, this technique was used to study the electrochemical energy storage behavior of T-Nb2O5. This independent control over dimensions in nanomaterials provides excellent model systems that can be used to answer fundamental questions during the fabrication of future generation nano-optimized energy storage and conversion devices.
During the above work I have gathered experiences in polymer synthetic techniques such as ATRP, sol-gel chemistry, polymer-templated co-assembly, air free synthesis, and nanoparticle synthesis. I have good understanding and experience in material characterization techniques such as SEM, EDAX, NMR, GPC, SAXS/GISAXS , MALDI-TOF, QCM, AFM and TEM. Furthermore, I have hands-on experience in electrochemical measurements such as cyclic voltammetry, galvanostatic cycling and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy.