Tulane University School of Science and Engineering
Summer MAterials Research @ Tulane (SMART)
Research Experience for Undergraduates
Below we describe sample projects offered by faculty advisors under Multi-Use Materials. These representative projects highlight the general interests of the participating faculty, though the specifics may be subject to change.
Engineering of Materials for Energy and Medical Applications
Douglas Chrisey, Physics and Engineering Physics
There is a constant demand for developing new materials with improved figures-of-merit for applications in disparate areas ranging from electronics to energy storage and tissue engineering. Only through advances in our fundamental understanding of how to combine matter, energy, and information will we meet this growing challenge and enable the fabrication of novel macroscopic material constructs by functional control at the nanometric level. The Chrisey research group is developing new materials for a wide range of applications including ceramic electronics, capacitive energy storage using glass-ceramic and polymer-ceramic composites, ceramic membranes for fuel cells, superconductivity, intercellular signaling, biosensing, regenerative medicine, and bionanomanufacturing. Students with a strong interest in making novel materials, studying their structure and properties, and fabricating prototype devices should consider this research area and may want to work in the Chrisey research group.
Development of New Physical Methods for Monitoring Polymerization Reactions and Characterizing Polymers
Wayne F. Reed, Dept. of Physics and Engineering Physics
Macromolecules, also termed polymers, are the building blocks of life as well as one of the most important classes of matter used in modern materials. Our mission is to develop new methods, instruments, and means of physical/mathematical analyses for monitoring the reactions that produce polymers, as well as characterizing finished polymers. We use a variety of optical and hydrodynamic methods, with a special emphasis on light scattering. The group works on both fundamental and applied projects. Industrial projects include work in the biotechnology, natural product, and polymer manufacturing fields. Students may work on development and prototyping of new instruments, help in developing mathematical and graphic analysis programs for experimental data, and/or run their own experiments using novel instrumentation. The group is very interdisciplinary and has members with background in Physics, Chemistry, Polymer Science and Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Opto-electronic Engineering, and Natural Products.
Self-Healing Polymer Networks
Bruce C. Gibb, Chemistry
Nature makes use of dynamic assembly to enable molecular structures to organize into dynamic higher-order structures, such as viruses, cells, and even whole organisms. The ability to understand and make use of dynamic assembly in water is invaluable considering that water is the world’s most common solvent. Despite this fact, the majority of research on supramolecular polymers (those held together in part by non-covalent forces) has focused on interactions primarily in non-polar media, namely inorganic complexation, electrostatic attraction, and hydrogen bonding. The hydrophobic effect (why oil and water don’t mix) is the overriding phenomenon responsible for non-covalent association in aqueous solution, which can be tuned by changes in temperature, ionic strength, pH, etc. to construct supramolecular polymers in water. This strong yet dynamic interaction is particularly promising as the critical recognition element in self-healing materials. Students involved with this project will help synthesize precursors based on the bowl-shaped host shown left, and given sufficient progress, also investigate the properties of self-healing polymers constructed from the aforementioned precursors. These property characterizations will utilize a range of analytical techniques including Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and Isothermal Titration Calorimetry.