The Martin Research Group focuses on synthesis, properties, and applications of soft and self-assembled materials. Our work lies at the interface of chemistry, materials science, and chemical engineering. Students in my group are exposed to diverse topics including synthetic chemistry, surface science, polymer structure and properties, self-assembly, and mass transport.
Membrane Separations are of significant technical interest due to their low energy requirements and ease of scalability. We have been interested in using structured polymers and polymer nanocomposites to create novel membrane separation materials. This includes polymer membranes for gas phase separations (e.g. olefin/paraffin, CO2) and porous and nanocomposite membranes for liquid phase separations (e.g. water desalination by reverse osmosis, enantioselective separation of chiral molecules.)
CO2 Transport in Porous Materials
Carbon dioxide capture and reduction is of significant interest as a means of reducing the climate impact of combustion processes. We are working on understanding the transport of CO2 and other gases in novel porous metal organic framework materials. Understanding the thermodynamics and kinetics of gas transport and sorption will facilitate the design of new materials for carbon capture and in-situ reduction to value-added feedstocks.
Control of Polymer Nanostructure
The development of polymer morphology during processing is still not well understood. This is a serious gap in understanding that prevents the prediction of properties (physical, transport, etc…) and the optimization of processing methods. We are developing experimental techniques (X-ray scattering and rheometry) capable of probing the microstructure and morphology development in situ during melt and solution casting of block copolymers and polymer blends. The goal is to develop kinetic models that will then be refined in order to create a system for the evaluation of novel polymeric materials and the optimization of processing. These have applications in membranes, adhesives, elastomers, nanolithography and other areas.
Understanding the Morphology and Processing of Nanocomposites
Polymer nanocomposites have diverse applications ranging from the high tech (carbon nanotube membranes) to the low tech (carbon black and silica filled tire materials.) Despite this, the structure of the inter-phase region between a polymer matrix and the nanoparticulate is often not well understood. Our goal in this work is to apply a suite of characterization methods (both in situ and ex situ) to gain an understanding of the structure and development of the polymer-nanoparticle interface during nanocomposite processing.