EAGER/Collaborative Research: Processing and Characterization of Soft Active Nanoparticulate Composites

Project: Research project

Project Details


This EArly-concept Grant for Exploratory Research (EAGER) collaborative research award provides funding for the generation of preliminary experimental data to support recent theoretical predictions on the macroscopic response of soft active nanoparticulate composites (SANCs) with tuned interphases, resulting in as much as one order of magnitude change in their mechanical response and two orders of magnitude change in their dielectric response. It is hypothesized that the interphase regions between the nanoparticle and the reinforcement matrix is responsible for these behaviors and can be tuned to deliver the desired response. These remarkable modifications of the macroscale response of nominally very similar materials call for an in-depth investigation of the electromechanical behavior of SANCs in terms of the geometry and properties of the underlying interphases. In this context, in line with recent theoretical results by the PIs, the objective of this exploratory project is to synthesize and test a model class of SANCs with interphases that are tailored to result in enhanced electromechanical properties. Novel fundamental mechanical experiments will be carried out to calibrate and validate recent multi-physics models and direct future research to optimum design envelopes for soft functional materials.

If successful, the results of this research will provide quantitative knowledge of how interphasial phenomena affect the macroscopic response of SANCs, which has the potential to transform our ability to advance the technological use of this class of active materials for applications in significant fields such as energy and medicine. This project will also provide an initial understanding of ground rules to synthesize soft nanoparticulate composites with controlled interphases as well as a novel approach to directly measure the electromechanical properties of such interphases.

Effective start/end date9/1/132/28/15


  • National Science Foundation: $45,000.00


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