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Materials Chemistry and Biomolecular Materials Program
Ames Laboratory,
Iowa State University
142 Spedding Hall
Ames, IA 50011 USA
Phone: 1-515-294-7568
FAX: 1-515-294-4709

 

Macromolecular Materials

Our research on Macromolecular Materials is focused on the following two areas:

(1)Bioinspired Materials
Principal Investigators: Mallapragada, Akinc, Schmidt-Rohr

(2)Solid-State NMR
Principal Investigator: Schmidt-Rohr

The first area, Bioinspired Materials, focuses on the synthesis and characterization of novel bioinspired synthetic polymeric materials that mimic living systems in their abilities to switch among several states in response to the environment (pH, temperature), self-assemble and build complex structures hierarchically, and can serve as directed templates for biomineralization/biometallization processes. Because these hierarchical templated self-assembly behaviors are the long-range manifestations of short-range interactions, understanding the guiding mechanisms of assembly across multiple length scales is crucial for tailoring new bioinspired materials. Our approach is unique in that we span multiple length scales. The mechanistic connection between these multiple length scales is a critical piece of the puzzle that we will unravel. This is a new and highly collaborative interdisciplinary project that was started in 2004 to capitalize on the synergistic and complementary expertise of the investigators in the polymer and solid-state inorganic areas and is in its very initial stages. In addition to the expertise and state-of-the-art facilities at the Ames Laboratory in solid-state NMR AFM and cryo-TEM, the DOE facilities at Argonne National Laboratory will be heavily utilized for scattering studies (light, X-ray, neutron). This collaboration will create a new body of knowledge, both experimental and theoretical, to answer several important questions at the intersection of materials, nanotechnology and biology to enable bioinspired materials design.


Solid-state NMR can be used to provide detailed insights into the structure and dynamics of complex polymer-based bulk materials and will be used to investigate the hybrid structures synthesized in the area of Bioinspired Materials. Since solid-state NMR is such a versatile and powerful tool, we will also focus on the development of solid-state NMR methods for improved determination of the size of heterogeneities in polymers and nanocomposites, sensitivity enhancement, characterization of segmental dynamics, and increased resolution for fluoropolymers. This area focuses on advanced solid-state NMR techniques by developing methods that yield more detailed information on supramolecular and segmental structures as well as fast molecular motions. NMR can provide information on the size of heterogeneities in polymers and nanocomposites (including the ones synthesized under sub-task 1) on the 0.5 – 50 nm scale, by means of 1H spin diffusion techniques. Improved accuracy for small domains, below the resolution limit of the electron microscope, is enabled by our C-H REDOR based measurements of short-range spin-diffusion coefficients. A method for improving the contrast of the spin diffusion technique and for measuring cluster sizes, via 13C chemical shifts, has also been introduced and these methods have been applied successfully in studies of clay-polymer nanocomposites.

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