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Mesoporous Block Copolymer Membranes for Bioseparations

We are investigating innovative membrane design to be applied to a variety of bioseparations relevant to the metabolic production of high-value chemicals. The membranes consist of percolating networks of 5-20 nm diameter pores in a block polymer matrix, fabricated via self-assembly. The surface-to-volume ratio is ~1000 mml-1, and consequently transport will be dominated by surface interactions. Accordingly, pore-wall functionalization should tune the selectivity to promote or retard the transport of specific classes of chemicals. 

The intern that joins this project, which is in its very early stages, will learn about anioinic polymerization, block copolymer self-assembly, polymer characterization techniques, melt processing techiques, and membrane fabrication and evaluation methods.

Mentor: Eric Cochran, associate professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Iowa State University