Research


EPI Research Areas and Programs


       Fundamental particle research in the institute spans  particle synthesis, particle functionalization, and directed assembly of particles into higher order, functional structures. Continuing emulsion polymers research is a blend of theoretical and experimental problems related to the preparation, characterization, and applications of polymer latexes and are aimed at understanding the kinetics, mechanisms morphology, and the colloidal, surface and bulk of the latexes. Applications of this fundamental technology, resulting from interdisciplinary research among the faculty associated with the institute, stand to align well with the strategic university and college-level nanotechnology, biotechnology, and energy/environment initiatives. Many projects within EPI achieve what has been the largest obstacle to commercialization of nanotechnology: scalable process design of nanoscale functioning materials. Materials fabricated by EPI researchers are designed to function either as nano- or microscale sensors, material modifiers, or to self-assemble into advanced materials that depend on the nanoscale features of its constituents. In addition, engineered particle technologies developed at EPI and other institutions have allowed for the validation of soft condensed matter theories at scales available to experimentalists. In the biotechnology area, research focuses on diagnostic and therapeutic technology to prepare particles that are biocompatible, biologically specific, easily detectable, and responsive to external controls. In the area of energy, work focuses on a variety of different unique particle technologies that may be used in applications such as catalysis and photocatalysts for the hydrogen economy, photovoltaics and solar cells, and membrane separations. In the environmental area, in addition to seeking novel particle technology for contaminant remediation in water, tailor-made colloidal particles with desirable surface properties, should provide model systems for fundamental insight into surface phenomena, relationships between bacterial adhesion to a surface and cellular bioenergetics, and bacterial transport through unsaturated porous media. Similarly, model porous media constructed by engineered particles could benefit research on the sources, fate and transport of bacteria in the environment, new water treatment technologies for developing countries, and alternative water disinfection technologies.

Research support for institute activities is obtained from industrial organizations through their membership in the Emulsion Polymers Industrial Liaison Program as well as government agencies. Hence some considerable effort is made to relate the research results to industrial needs. Consequently, graduates can find excellent opportunities for employment.

 

Emulsion Polymerization/Polymer Colloids Programs  (Professors Mohamed El-AasserAndrew KleinCesar Silebi, Dr. Eric Daniels)

     The emulsion polymers research projects within the Institute are diverse. There are five areas of continuing major commitment: (1) kinetics and mechanisms in all aspects of polymerization in heterogeneous systems; (2)miniemulsions, their preparation, reaction kinetics, and application in  homopolymerizations, copolymerizations, and hybrids; (3) morphology and its development through experimental and theoretical studies; (4) the role of surfactants including ionic, nonionic, polymeric, and polymerizable; and (5) film formation from latexes. Other areas of research can include: (1) reactors, modeling, and control; (2) surface characterization of latex particles; (3) determination of particle size and size distribution; (4) flocculation/coagulation; and (5) large-particle-size monodisperse latexes, which has included microgravity and simulated microgravity, seeded, and dispersion polymerizations to prepare polymer particles which are uniform, highly crosslinked, and porous. Recent contract research includes areas such as the kinetics and mechanism of inverse emulsion polymerization, the synthesis of expandable microspheres, the effect of particle morphology on impact modification, and the development of heat transfer fluids containing nanoparticles.

© Emulsion Polymers Institute 2016