Our team has been working for several years in this field in various combinations and we have a set of publications and preliminary work that has laid the groundwork for this larger effort.  For example, Schadler is part of an NSEC grant on Directed Assembly of Nanostructures.  Through that grant we have learned to tailor interfacial properties, and have gained significant understanding of the polymer physics at the interface. More recently, we have begun to understand the novel self-assembly that occurs when polymer decorated nanoparticles are placed either in a solvent or in a polymer matrix of the same chemical structure as the brush but of a different length. We have also begun to develop mapping functions that predict changes in Tg that accompany these assembly processes.  Brinson, and Schadler were involved in a NIRT (which ended in August ‘08) during which they developed a fundamental micromechanical understanding of nanotube / polymer nanocomposites. Breneman and Schadler have a newly-initiated project with Lockheed Martin on the mechanical properties of graphite fiber / carbon nanotube / thermoset composites in which both empirical and heuristic methods will be used to improve prediction of hierarchical composite properties.  Thus we have assembled a collection of experts, who have a documented history of collaboration, to solve a problem of immediate relevance to the commercial success of polymer nanocomposites.

In addition, we cover the appropriate expertise.  Breneman is an expert in the development, validation and use of predictive cheminformatics methods, particularly in the area of novel molecular property descriptors, and is the director of an NIH Cheminformatics Center located on the RPI campus (RECCR).  Breneman is also the founder of the Rensselaer Cheminformatics Consortium.   Brinson has expertise in molecular dynamics and micromechanics through continuum methods for the prediction of macroscale composite behavior, including thermomechanical response, impacts of interphase, particle morphology, interconnectivity and percolation effects; these complement experimental expertise to investigate the nature of the interfacial interactions and nanoparticle morphology on composite response.  Schadler’s expertise is in processing and thermomechanical property measurements of nanocomposites, and in developing empirical structure-property relationships. 


Team Efforts

Co-pi  L. Cate Brinson