Thrust 2

Stimuli-Responsive Polymeric Materials

Overall Scientific Challenge

The overall challenge of Thrust 2 is to develop new generations of dynamic materials that can respond and adapt to external stimuli, leading to new knowledge and technological advances. The three scientific questions critical to the development of polymeric stimuliresponsive materials are: Which molecular components in materials and their interactions with the environment facilitate stimuli-responsiveness? What internal or external stimuli can be used to control new materials’ functions? Which chemico-physical features will lead to stimuli-responsiveness? These queries will be answered by the integration of experimental and multiscale modeling activities.

Thrust Co-leaders: Brian Benicewicz (Chem, USC) and Marek Urban (MSE, Clemson)

Contributing Faculty: Rajendra “Raj” Bordia (MSE, Clemson), Olga Kuksenok (MSE, Clemson), Hyesuk Lee (Math Sci, Clemson), Igor Luzinov (MSE, Clemson), Thomas Mefford (MSE, Clemson), Ken Shimizu (Chem, USC), Morgan Stefik (Chem, USC), Chuanbing Tang (Chem, USC), Qi Wang (Math, USC), Margaret Wiecek (Math Sci, Clemson), Sheryl Wiskur (Chem, USC)

Affiliated Faculty: Brian Goess (Chem, Furman), Narayanan Kuthirummal (Phys, CofC), Nasrollah Hamidi (Chem, SCSU), Jeffrey Petty (Chem, Furman)

The overall challenge of Thrust 2 is to develop new generations of dynamic materials that can respond and adapt to external stimuli, leading to new knowledge and technological advances. Thrust 2 will develop sensing and self-healing polymeric materials that respond to environmental stimuli. These dynamic polymers will respond with macroscopic property changes resulting from chemical or physical structural reorganization including cleavage or restoration of chemical bonds, phase reorganization or conformational changes. Such advances will enable an array of applications, ranging from self-repairing polymers for structural applications, to new polymer-based sensors, to biomedical devices that release drugs or purify water. We will investigate stimuli important for applications such as thermal or electromagnetic radiation, environmental changes (solvent, pH, ionic strength, matrix), electrical or magnetic fields and mechanical stress.

Realizing the desired properties by the traditional route is slow because it relies on complex syntheses and specialized characterization. The top-to-bottom approach for the self-assembly of multicomponent and multiphase materials, such as block copolymers/nanoparticle systems, is an appealing alternative. To augment these approaches, we will utilize a multiscale computational modeling approach to design polymers and elucidate the fundamental principles governing these materials through an iterative loop involving synthesis, processing, characterization and modeling. This approach will improve the fundamental modeling and simulation capabilities by resolving cases where simulations and experimental results do not converge. The focus of the research will be on: (1) developing the next generation of self-repairing materials; and (2) developing principles governing functions and responses of molecular sensors. Both areas of research will have significant societal and technological impacts by implementing innovative solutions to energy, health, and homeland security sectors and transforming daily lives. Results from simulations will inform the design of second generation materials in advanced years of the project.