Exploration of multi-block polymer morphologies using high performance computing

Modern material design increasingly relies on controlling small scale morphologies. Multi-block polymers are well suited to this as they can provide highly tunable structures with applications ranging from structural materials to specialized uses such as fuel cells and separation membranes. Several unique microstructures can be formed from even a two component, diblock, polymer. Systems with more components present a much richer array of morphologies, allowing even more control over properties.

With this flexibly comes the key challenge of relating the polymer components to the resulting microstructures. Experimentally exploring this set of possibilities is very time- and resource- intensive. Computational simulation provides an efficient way to address this challenge. We have developed computational techniques and high performance computing that will enable us to virtually model multi-block polymer systems. This project will explore explore multi-block polymer systems to identify promising structures and create a road map for materials design.

Mentor: David Ackerman, research associate, Mechanical Engineering, Iowa State University.