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CBE Seminar: Engineering Multifunctional Polymers for Separations Membranes and Responsive Nanocomposites

Uptown Campus

Polymeric materials, due to their adaptability and array of functionality, touch almost every aspect of our daily
lives. This seminar will focus on two areas in which new behavior was engineered into “old” materials. In the
first part, I will discuss my lab’s efforts to design new polymers for water treatment membranes.
Membrane-based water purification techniques are the current state of the art, but face limitations including
thermodynamically limited transport, high material and operation costs, the perm-selectivity tradeoff, and
fouling-prone or chlorine-sensitive membrane materials. Through the addition of charged sites, specifically
zwitterions, to poly(arylene ether sulfone)s, the hydrophilicity, water permeability, and fouling resistance were
all improved while maintaining constant salt rejection. In the second part, I will discuss a new paradigm for
studying molecular-level behavior in nanocomposites. These multifunctional materials enable combinations of
tunable optical properties, smart sensing, conductivity, and excellent thermomechanical properties. Currently,
mechanoresponsive polymers use a limited subset of active backbone chemistries to yield changes in optical
properties. My lab has developed a strategy to yield mechanoresponsive fluorescence by adding quantum
dots and fluorescently labeled carbon nanotubes. Pronounced changes in fluorescence emerge following
plastic deformation, indicating a transduction of mechanical force into fluorescence. Thus, the force
activation of fluorescence for quenching pairs can serve as a general strategy to develop new
nanocomposite matrices that impart desirable functionalities, including damage sensing and robust
mechanical strength.
Matthew Green obtained a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and a B.S. in Chemistry at Virginia Tech in 2007, and
a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering in 2011 at Virginia Tech working with Prof. Timothy Long. Then, he worked as a
postdoctoral researcher at the University of Delaware in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Department with Prof. Thomas Epps, III and Prof. Millicent Sullivan. He joined the faculty at Arizona State
University in Chemical Engineering in 2014 and his research is focused on the design and synthesis of novel,
ion-containing block copolymers to be used in materials ranging from membranes for water purification to
polymeric nanocomposites. He has received several awards, including the 2016 Young Membrane Scientist by
the North American Membrane Society (NAMS), the 2018 NASA Early Career Faculty Award, participation in
the 2018 Mayo Faculty Summer Residency Program, the 2018 Ford Faculty Fellowship from ASU, inclusion in the
2018 Young Talents Special Issue of Macromolecular Rapid Communications, inclusion in the 2019 Class of
Influential Researchers special issue of Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, and the 2019 NSF CAREER

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department

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