Project Description: High internal phase emulsion polymer foams (pHIPEs) are a form of water treatment technology needed to address urgent issues with community water treatment infrastructure. pHIPEs are adsorbents with a high internal surface area that originates from the initial solvent/monomer emulsion and the surfactant that stabilizes the solvent/monomer interface. Despite the reliance of pHIPE function on surfactants, little work has been done to understand the impact of surfactant structure on pHIPE performance or reduce the need to remove it post-polymerization. To meet this need, this project will determine structure-property relationships for reactive surfactants (surfmers) that demonstrate the impact of surfactant structure on the porous performance and bulk properties of pHIPEs. Surfmers will be synthesized and designed to stabilize the monomer/solvent interface and to participate in bulk polymerization, resulting in pHIPEs with tunable interfacial activity and porous morphology that do not leach and that conform to the principles of green chemistry. After synthesis, surfmer structure will be correlated to interfacial dynamics (e.g., interfacial tension, diffusion, and adsorption), foam performance (e.g., specific surface area and pore morphology), and polymerization (e.g, surfmer incorporation, conversion, and modulus). This work will also incorporate research to develop effective strategies for communicating with non-scientists about water quality issues, available technologies, and existing infrastructure in their community, with the goal of increasing scientific literacy.
The Koh Lab is looking for students interested in pursuing a PhD in Chemical and Biological Engineering beginning Fall 2023.
Contact Dr. Koh (email@example.com) for information or to express your interest in this position.