Institute of Materials Science

Advanced Materials Characterization Graduate Certificate in Engineering Program

Advanced Materials Characterization Graduate Certificate Program

At the request of local industry, Institute of Materials Science Director Steven L. Suib created the Advanced Materials Characterization (AMC) Certificate Graduate Certificate in Engineering program. The program is designed to help researchers understand the latest techniques of identification and analysis of materials. The curriculum consists of four courses all developed by Dr. Suib: Structural Analysis, Microstructural and Morphological Analysis, Compositional Analyses, and Surface and Interfacial Analysis.

The online format of all the courses allows professionals to participate regardless of their schedule or location. The program includes one student from Ohio and another from Puerto Rico. At the conclusion of the spring 2022 semester, 3 students completed the certificate program. One student reported that they were impressed by the course format and extensive content, and they have implemented a variety of the techniques for their research and development position. AMC is another great example of IMS’s willingness to react to the needs of local industry.

For more information about the Advanced Materials Characterization Certificate Program, visit: https://engineeringcertificates.uconn.edu/advanced-materials-characterization-certificate/

2022 Polymer Poster Session

2022 Polymer Program Poster Session
IMS Polymer Program students display posters during 2022 Poster Session.

After two years of restrictions due to the COVID virus, the Polymer Program held its first in-person poster session since 2019. The event kicked off a 2-day open house for graduate student recruitment and also broke the long streak of virtual events.

Poster boards were dusted off and set up in the new Gant Complex Atrium, now called the “Light Court”, with a new collection of posters. Faculty and students expressed much gratification for the escape from the cyber world and return to the tradition of in-person discussions. Despite the masks, the smiles could be seen and the joy of the event could be felt by all.

A few faculty and students passing through the area felt the magnetic pull of the science talk and enthusiastically joined the fun. The event included 15 posters from polymer research laboratories, more than two dozen students, five visiting prospective students, and faculty from four departments. While the times change and technology evolves, it will be difficult to replace the glory of a traditional poster session.

2022 Polymer Program Poster Session
Students speaking with Polymer Program Director Kelly Burke during 2022 Poster Session.

Dr. Vahid Morovati to Join Polymer Program Faculty

Vahid Morovati
Dr. Vahid Morovati

Polymer Engineer, Dr. Vahid Morovati will join the University of Connecticut this fall with a joint appointment in both the IMS Polymer Program and the department of Civil & Environmental Engineering. Dr. Morovati completed his first Ph.D. in Civil Engineering at the Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran. In 2020, he received a dual Ph.D. in Civil Engineering-Structural Engineering and Mechanical Engineering-Solid Mechanics from Michigan State University.

Vahid is currently a Postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Mechanics of Solids, Structures and Materials and the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at the University of Texas at Austin. His primary research interests lie in the multi-scale and micro-mechanical modeling of materials. As a part of his Ph.D. work, he developed a modular platform to study the nonlinear behavior of crosslinked elastomers. He is currently developing a computational framework to study the reliability of multi-layer thin films and the impacts of process-parameters on the mechanical properties of thin-film coatings. Vahid is also conducting research on the mechanics of multilayered van der Waals (vdW) materials to enhance their properties through strain engineering. He has published over 30 peer-reviewed journal papers and conference proceedings.

The Polymer Program faculty are excited to have Dr. Morovati as its newest member. His expertise in multi-scale modeling, the mechanical behavior of polymeric materials, and damage accumulation provides an excellent complement to the Program’s current faculty, and will expand the variety, scope, and value of the Polymer Program’s research.

IMS Faculty Members Named 2022 American Chemical Society PMSE Young Investigators

Kelly Burke-Sophie Wang
Drs. Kelly Burke (l) and Xueju “Sophie” Wang

Each year, the American Chemical Society’s Division of Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering (PMSE) honors young investigators through its PMSE Young Investigator Symposium which provides an opportunity to highlight the accomplishments of its honorees.  Honorees are chosen from early-career emerging leaders who have made significant contributions in their respective fields within polymer materials science and engineering. The invited honorees speak at a two-day “PMSE Young Investigator” symposium, held during the Fall National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.

IMS faculty members Kelly Burke and Xueju “Sophie” Wang have been named PMSE Young Investigator Honorees for 2022 and will speak at the two-day “PMSE Young Investigator” symposium, to be held during the Fall National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Kelly Burke joined the UConn faculty in 2014 as Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering with an appointment in the Institute of Materials Science.  She has been recognized for her accomplishments, including the National Institute of Health Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award and the prestigious NSF CAREER Award. She was appointed Director of the IMS Polymer Program in September 2021.

Sophie Wang joined the UConn faculty in 2020 as an Assistant Professor in the Materials Science and Engineering Department with an appointment in the Institute of Materials Science.  She has consistently distinguished her research with numerous publications and as the recipient of the ASME Orr Early Career Award, and the NSF CAREER Award.  She is an associate faculty member of the IMS Polymer Program.

IMS congratulates both Kelly and Sophie on this accomplishment.

Polymer Program Alumnus Published in Royal Society of Chemistry

Ajinkya Deshmukh
Dr. Ajinkya Deshmukh

Ajinkya Deshmukh, IMS Polymer Program alumnus and graduate assistant in polymer science, is first author in a research paper recently published in Royal Society of Chemistry.

From the Abstract: Flexible polymers that can withstand temperature and electric field extremes are critical to advanced electrical and electronic systems. High thermal stability of polymers is generally achieved through the introduction of highly conjugated aromatic structures, that lower the bandgap and thus diminish the electric field endurance. Here, we demonstrate a class of flexible all-organic polyolefins by a strategic modular structure design to eliminate the impact of conjugation on bandgap. The one such designed polymer exhibits superior operational temperature and Tg of 244 °C without compromising the bandgap (∼5 eV), exhibiting significantly suppressed electrical conductivity when subjected to a high electric field. It reveals the highest ever recorded energy density of 6.5 J cc−1 at 200 °C, a 2× improvement over the best reported flexible dielectric polymers or polymer composites. The uncovered polymer design strategy introduces a platform for high performance dielectric development for extreme thermal and electric field conditions.

Read the full publication

Dr. Kelly Burke Appointed Director of IMS Polymer Program

Dr. Kelly BurkeDr. Kelly Burke has been appointed Director of the IMS Polymer Program. She joined the UConn faculty in 2014 as Assistant Professor Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering with an appointment in the Institute of Materials Science. Since joining the faculty, she has received numerous grants and awards and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2021.

“Kelly brings a lot of new ideas, energy, and support for this program,” Dr. Steven Suib, Director of IMS, noted in announcing the appointment. She succeeds Dr. Luyi Sun in the position.

Alumnus Christopher Simone Reflects on Career at DuPont

Christopher Simone

Polymer Program Alumnus, Dr. Christopher Simone (’02), is featured in an article by the American Chemical Society (ACS).  Simone’s reflection on his 19-year career with DuPont addresses topics such as how to find success in research and development in the public sector.

Chris joined DuPont in 2002 as a research chemist developing new products and processes to support the Kapton® polyimide films and Pyralux® laminates portfolio within the DuPont Interconnect Solutions business. In his 19 year career, he has progressed within the research and development organization developing novel Kapton® films and associated process research for the flexible printed circuit industry.  Read the full ACS article.

Recent Ph.D. Graduate Reflects on Experience as IMS Polymer Program Student

Dr. Deepthi Varghese
Dr. Deepthi Varghese

After completing a Master’s Degree in Biochemistry from St. Josephs Arts & Science College in Bangalore, India, Deepthi Varghese joined the UConn Chemistry graduate program in the fall semester of 2014. After hearing brief research presentations from the chemistry departmental faculty, she became interested in Polymer Science with Prof. Douglas Adamson, an unexpected diversion from her initial plans for a career in biochemistry into a field in which she had no experience.

Although the lack of experience created a steep learning curve, Deepthi embraced this new research direction. While she faced challenges during the first two years, looking back, Deepthi says that she gained far more knowledge than expected, including polymer science, electro chemistry, and setting up scientific research laboratories.

Deepthi also struggled with many challenges regarding science including the fact that experiments are more likely to fail than succeed; science takes far more time than initially expected; and there is never enough time to accomplish everything. Lessons like this can be applied to all aspects of life, business, and art, as well as science.

In addition to the science, Deepthi has increased her knowledge of communications, independent learning, and keeping an open mind to feedback from all sources. She realized that you never know who will have valuable knowledge.

“Keeping an open ear and open mind allows you to learn from faculty, technicians, graduate students, and undergraduate students as well,” Deepthi says. She noted that undergraduates, especially those from outside disciplines, are also able to contribute bits of knowledge to the scientific challenges of the day.

Deepthi became involved with UConn organizations, the South Asia Community (Tarang) and the Graduate School Senate, where she was treasurer and president, respectively. This experience helped her learn organizational leadership.

Looking back on her graduate experience at UConn, Deepthi says that she grew as a scientist as well as a person. She had a number of unexpected experiences that changed her in many ways, all positive. In November, 2019, Deepthi started her professional career as a TD Etch Module Engineer at Intel, Hillsboro, Oregon.

IMS Polymer Program Members Inducted into UConn NAI Chapter

NAI Members and Inductees
NAI UConn Chapter members and inductees (Dr. Alexandru Asandei is 3rd from left, Dr. Richard Parnas is 4th from left).

IMS Polymer Program faculty members, Dr. Alexandru Asandei and Dr. Richard Parnas, were inducted into the UConn Chapter of the National Association of Inventors (NAI) in December 2019. The UConn NAI chapter was established in 2017 as the first Connecticut chapter of the national organization which was formed in 2010. The goal of NAI is to recognize and encourage academic inventors, enhance the visibility of academic technology and innovation, encourage the disclosure of intellectual property, educate and mentor innovative students, and translate the inventions of its members to benefit society.

Dr. Richard Parnas — whose research pursuits include biofuels production and separations, renewable polymers and composites, and interface engineering — holds a patent for a novel membrane that can be used to make biodiesel production more profitable by aiding the conversion of glycerol to 1,3 propanediol, a valuable platform chemical.

In 2018, Dr. Parnas and Trumbull, CT-based REA Resource Recovery Systems partnered with UConn and the Greater New Haven Water Pollution Control Authority (GNHWPCA) to place a pilot-scale demonstration system at the East Shore Water Pollution Abatement Facility in New Haven to convert brown grease to biodiesel fuel. The type of biodiesel fuel produced through this partnership, called Brown FOG (fats, oils, grease) can be used for power generation, including to power vehicles.

In May of 2019, U.S. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) and former New Haven Mayor Toni Harp visited the joint UCONN/GNHWPCA/REA project at the East Shore facility to celebrate the successful performance of the demonstration system and to kick off the effort to place a full-scale commercial system at several wastewater treatment plants in the state. Dr. Parnas has since partnered with the city of Danbury on a project to create a biodiesel production facility at that city’s water treatment plant.

Dr. Alexandru Asandei’s research interests include controlled radical polymerization, block copolymers, fluoropolymers, catalysis, biodegradable polymers, and organometallic chemistry. He holds several patents related to his research in polymer science and has served as an editorial board member for the Journal of Polymer Science: Part A: Polymer Chemistry since 2009. Dr. Asandei has served as co-organizer of the American Chemical Society (ACS) Workshop on Fluoropolymers in 2016, 2018, 2020.

In 2015, Dr. Asandei completed a month-long visiting professorship at Pôle Chimie Balard in Montpelier, France. Asandei was selected for the Chaire TOTAL program which includes a visiting professor/researcher component, an International School on Sustainable Chemistry and Energy initiative, and a scholarship program. As part of the program, Asandei presented four invited lectures. While in France, Professor Asandei also made invited presentations at the University of Toulouse and the University of Grenoble.  Dr. Asandei has been called upon to present his research at numerous conferences, universities, and industry organizations.