Sustainable Soft Materials and Flexible Electronics
We leverage our multidisciplinary expertise in chemistry, polymers, and materials science and engineering to design research projects that span fundamental and applied topics. Our core research focuses on identifying sustainable soft materials for flexible electronics. We synthesize new polymers, evaluate existing natural materials, and develop flexible electronics for human health sustainability.
We modify chemicals extracted from natural materials found in the environment, like plants, flowers, and agricultural waste, and then evaluate their potential as monomers for chain- and step-growth polymerizations. We also modify existing monomers with known toxicity to assess their biocompatibility following modification. Projects in these areas focus on the creative use of organic and polymer chemistry. Once polymerized, we evaluate our products’ structure-property relationships, such as their optical, electrical, thermal, mechanical, deteriorative, and barrier properties, which play an important role in assessing their use in new flexible electronic technologies.
Ask us about current projects on this topic.
We identify polymers from renewable resources like biomass and then evaluate their materials properties. We also evaluate the structure-property relationships of composite analogs and their life cycle to address our society’s search for a closed-loop economy. Projects in these areas focus on polymer and composite characterization. We also study fundamental properties like polymer-particle interfacial compatibility and particle dispersion. We are also interested in using natural polymers and composites for applications in human health and flexible electronics.
Project examples: non-woven mats; encapsulants; moisture wicking materials
We create wearables for human health monitoring with sustainability in mind. Integrating flexible electronics into our daily lives can significantly enhance our quality of life and, importantly, help us live healthier—not just longer. We combine our materials and existing resources to construct health monitoring tools that assess physiological responses, including the properties of skin. Cognizant of the long-term environmental impact the growing number of flexible electronics entering the market are anticipated to have on the environment, we also develop materials and methods to reduce electronic waste (e-waste). We aim to reduce e-waste by integrating biodegradable materials into our electronics, minimizing their design footprint, and assessing the full life cycle of the materials we use.
Project examples: skin thermal properties; piezoelectrets; packaging