RESEARCH IN THE PENTZER LAB

The Pentzer Group uses fundamental organic chemistry to build next generation materials. We are inspired by various applications, specifically for the management of energy. We are interested in 2D particles at interfaces, orthogonally responsive molecules, development of novel polymer backbones by chain growth polymerizations, and additive manufacturing. Our dynamic team includes postdoctoral scholars, PhD students, MS students, undergraduates, and high school students. Prof. Pentzer is dedicated to training the future STEM workforce and providing opportunities for collaboration and growth.

 

RESEARCH AREAS

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POLYMERS

The polymers subgroup of the Pentzer Lab synthesizes new polymers with advanced functionalities. One thrust focuses on developing polymers containing radicals with well-defined spacing along a linear backbone, which can be used to differentiate conductivity pathways in these materials. Another goal of this subgroup is to develop an insulating polymers bearing azulene (a highly polarizable molecule) derivatives as pendant groups to obtain dielectric materials for parallel plate capacitors. A third thrust involves using silyl ketenes as new monomers for chain growth polymerizations (left). Anionic, cationic and group transfer polymerization techniques are currently being explored.

Scheme of different Pickering emulsion-templated systems developed by the Pentzer Lab

PARTICLES

The Pentzer Lab harnesses the interfacial assembly of 2D particle surfactants to template advanced architectures. The group combines the assembly of nanosheets at the fluid-fluid interface in Pickering emulsions with simple chemical reactions to tailor structures. The group has tuned the polarity of graphene oxide to achieve oil-in-water and oil-in-oil emulsions, produced hollow capsules or capsules filled with active materials, and developed Janus nanosheets which are functionalized only on one face. The group is also interested in alternate nanosheet materials such as MXenes and lithium cobalt oxide. Ongoing and future work includes exploring non-spherical and shape-shifting droplets, encapsulating fluorinated gases, developing a library of Janus nanosheets, and 3D printing emulsions.

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PRINTING

The 3D printing subgroup has created electrically conductive printable composites for applications such as motors and sensors, alongside composites for the thermal energy management of buildings (left). Current work focuses on imparting porosity to 3D printed objects. Ongoing work involves developing new 3D printable composites and characterizing their rheological properties.