Advanced Materials Lab

Iowa State University


Electronic devices are designed to last for a long period of time, under harsh chemical and physical conditions. The performance of electronic devices is to remain intact when the device is exposed to harsh environments such as high humidity and temperature. Contrary to conventional electronic devices, a new concept would be to design sophisticated electronic devices at the same performance level that are capable of undergoing rapid degradation at prescribed time and controlled rate. The sophisticated electronics used in implantable biomedical devices, military and inelegance applications can benefit from this concept. In this work, we have demonstrated a fully transient, operational electronic device that can undergo rapid full degradation in under a minute.  We have designed and synthesized fully transient insulating and conductive polymers and metal dispersions that, when fabricated into an electrical circuit, exhibited reliable and repeatable electrical functionality along with rapid degradation. Synthesis of transient nano-colloid systems is a significant contribution toward  realization of transient electronics. We have demonstrated that nano-colloid base electronic components can undergo full re-dispersion without mechanical mixing, and leave no traceable remains.

Transient Advanced Materials

Transient materials are a new class of materials that can undergo rapid degradation and dissolve in their environment when degradation is triggered. Transient materials undergo transience mode when transience triggering mechanism is activated.

Ionic Electroactive Polymer Devices
(Biomedical Devices, Soft Microrobotics)

Design, fabrication and characterization of ionic electroactive polymer actuators and sensors. This projects aims to achieve high-performance actuators and sensors with precise controllability and sensibility for biomedical devices and soft microrobotics. 

We present the study of structure-property-processing correlation in flexible-stretchable metal-ion polymer batteries, with insight into the fundamental science of the soft materials in electrochemical energy storage. We have integrated soft functional materials into the structure of gel polymer electrolyte and electrodes to allow fabrication of flexible-stretchable metal-ion polymer batteries, to prevent issues arose from expansion/contraction of the electrochemical cell.

We are, experimentally and theoretically, investigating functionality of ionic electroactive polymers. Mobility of ions inside these polymers is influenced by many factors including size and type of the ions and nano/micro-structural properties of the polymer composite.  Controlling these factors can be used as a means to manipulate behavior of ionic electroactive polymers. We have exhibited that performance of ionic electroactive polymer-electromechanical actuators can be significantly improved.

Electrochromic Devices
(Energy Efficient Buildings and Structures) 

This project aims on development of electrochromic devices. High contrast, low operating voltage, long lifespan and fast switching are among properties of interest. Functionality of this class of electrochromic devices is due to variations in redox states of a functional thin-film of electrochromic polymer(s).

Liquid Crystal Elastomers
(Biomimetic Artificial Muscle Fibers, Thermomechanical Actuators) 

Enhancing the thermomechanical performance of nematic liquid crystal elastomer actuators by embedment of gold nanoparticles in the polymeric network. Presence of gold nanoparticles increases the thermal conductivity and enhances heat penetration within the network, thus improves overall response time of the actuators during fast heating/cooling.

Gas Chromatography MEMS
(Lab-on-a-Chip Bio-threat Detection Systems)

This project concerns design and fabrication of organic polymer coatings for gas chromatography MEMS to develop lab-on-a-chip devices for gas analysis. GC MEMS have biomedical applications such as in breath analysis for early-stage disease detection and homeland security applications such as bio-threat detection systems.

Metal-ion Polymer Batteries

Metal-ion polymer batteries are associated with some safety concerns, one of which is the expansion/contraction of the cell while charging and discharging that results in delamination of electrodes, and may also cause damage to the casing and result in exposure of the lithium to the ambient; which in turn results in vital reaction of lithium with the moisture in the ambient and may cause fire and explosion. One concept to resolve this issue is to investigate flexible and stretchable materials as electrodes and electrolyte for this class of secondary cell batteries. However, one main concern is the poor electric and ionic conductivity of flexible and stretchable materials.