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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Awardee:COLLEGE OF WILLIAM & MARY, THE
Doing Business As Name:College of William and Mary
PD/PI:
  • Hannes C Schniepp
  • (757) 221-2559
  • schniepp@wm.edu
Award Date:08/19/2015
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 324,934
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 324,934
  • FY 2015=$324,934
Start Date:10/01/2015
End Date:09/30/2020
Transaction Type:Grant
Agency:NSF
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.049
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:DMREF: Collaborative Research: Polymeric Composites and Foams Based on Two Dimensional Surfactants
Federal Award ID Number:1534428
DUNS ID:074762238
Parent DUNS ID:074762238
Program:DMREF
Program Officer:
  • John Schlueter
  • (703) 292-7766
  • jschluet@nsf.gov

Awardee Location

Street:Office of Sponsored Programs
City:Williamsburg
State:VA
ZIP:23187-8795
County:Williamsburg
Country:US
Awardee Cong. District:02

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:The College of William & Mary
Street:PO Box 8795
City:Williamsburg
State:VA
ZIP:23187-8795
County:Williamsburg
Country:US
Cong. District:02

Abstract at Time of Award

The challenge of mixing different materials such as plastics, particles, and solvents is one of the major factors hindering future advances in the development of functional materials with new or improved properties. A prominent example of this are graphene-based materials, where graphene?s extraordinary combination of high strength, surface area, and conductivity cannot yet be fully utilized as graphene sheets tend to clump together and stack due to a lack of compatibility with other materials. Boron nitride sheets are another example of a promising material limited by the same problem. This project attempts to overcome this obstacle by utilizing the high-energy interface between two immiscible solvents to force stacked graphene sheets to exfoliate and spread. The understanding of governing physical principles of surface activity of graphene and boron nitride produced by this activity will be applied to form emulsions that serve as precursors for the synthesis of foam-like materials reinforced with graphene or boron nitride with optimized mechanical and electrical properties. These reinforced polymeric materials have the potential to be used as strong and lightweight structural materials, electrodes in capacitors and batteries, substrates for flexible electronics, electrically conductive, high surface area catalyst supports, and super-absorbent materials. The project will also be of societal benefit as a result of outreach activities built on the Chemistry Wizards Program designed to target middle school children learning about scientific inquiry. The program aims to spur students from underrepresented populations to pursue post-secondary study and careers in STEM fields. Mixing of chemically and physically different species such as polymer chains, colloidal particles, and solvents is one of the major factors hindering future advances in the development of functional materials. A prominent example of this are graphene based polymeric materials, where graphene?s lack of compatibility/solubility is commonly overcome by approaches that compromise its superior electrical, thermal, and mechanical properties and make the composite materials less attractive for future development. This project attempts to overcome this obstacle by utilizing the high-energy interface between two immiscible solvents to force stacked graphene sheets to exfoliate and spread. Lowering the overall free energy of the system drives this rearrangement of sheets. This research is centered on the development of a unifying theoretical, computational and experimental framework to describe the behavior of two-dimensional materials at the liquid/liquid interface. The approach is multi-scale, reaching from the atomic to mesoscopic dimensions. Using graphene and boron nitride as examples, this work will reveal general selection principles for solvent pairs and reaction conditions for which the novel concept of using two-dimensional sheets as surfactants can be realized. The understanding of the governing physical principles of surface activity of graphene and boron nitride will be applied to form emulsions that serve as precursors for the synthesis of foam-like materials reinforced with graphene or boron nitride. The developed theoretical and computational models of these composite foams aim at the design of materials with optimized mechanical and electrical properties. These design tools will be tested and calibrated through experimental studies at nano- and meso-length scales. Ultimately, the work will outline design principles for nanostructured, multifunctional, two-dimensional surfactant-reinforced polymeric composites with tailored properties, enabling material development in a fraction of the time that would be required by a trial and error approach alone. The reinforced polymeric materials have the potential to be used as strong and lightweight structural materials, electrodes in capacitors and batteries, substrates for flexible electronics, electrically conductive, high surface area catalyst supports, and super-absorbent materials. The project will also be of societal benefit as a result of outreach activities built on the Chemistry Wizards Program designed to target middle school children learning about scientific inquiry. The program aims to spur students from underrepresented populations to pursue post-secondary study and careers in STEM fields.

Publications Produced as a Result of this Research

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Samuel Hocker, Natalie Hudson-Smith, Hannes C. Schniepp, and David E. Kranbuehl "Enhancing polyimide's water barrier properties through addition of functionalized graphene oxide" Polymer, v.93, 2016, p.23. doi:10.1016/j.polymer.2016.04.008 

Z. Zhang, H. C. Schniepp, Douglas H. Adamson "Characterization of graphene oxide: Review of current approaches" Carbon, v., 2019, p.. doi:10.1016/j.carbon.2019.07.103 

W. Dickinson, K. Harish, D. H. Adamson, H. C. Schniepp "High-Throughput Optical Thickness and Size Characterization of 2D Materials" Nanoscale, v., 2018, p.. doi:NR-ART-08-2017-005979 

M. Amin, B. Atwater, R. Pike, D. E. Kranbuehl, H. C. Schniepp "High-Purity Boron Nitride Nanotubes via High-Yield Hydrocarbon Solvent Processing" Chemistry of Materials, v., 2019, p.. doi:10.1021/acs.chemmater.9b01713 

SJA Hocker, NV Hudson-Smith, PT Smith, CH Komatsu, LR Dickinson, HC Schniepp, DE Kranbuehl "Graphene oxide reduces the hydrolytic degradation in polyamide-11" Polymer, v.126, 2017, p.248. doi:10.1016/j.polymer.2017.08.034 

Laura R. Dickinson, David E. Kranbuehl, and Hannes C. Schniepp "Assessing Graphene Oxide/Polymer Interfacial Interactions via Peeling Test" Surface Innovations, v., 2016, p.. doi:10.1680/jsuin.16.00009 

W. W. Dickinson, S. S. Jyothirmayee Aravind., S. R. Higgins, B. M. J. M. Suijkerbuijk, H. C. Schniepp "Using atomic force spectroscopy to study oil/mineral interactions at reservoir temperatures and pressures" Fuel, v., 2020, p.. doi:10.1016/j.fuel.2019.116194 

Benedikt R. Neugirg, Sean R. Koebley, Hannes C. Schniepp, and Andreas Fery "AFM-based mechanical characterization of single nanofibres" Nanoscale, v.8, 2016, p.8414. doi:10.1039/c6nr00863a 

S. J. A. Hocker, W. Kim, H. C. Schniepp, D. Kranbuehl "Polymer Crystallinity and the Ductile to Brittle Transition" Polymer, v.158, 2018, p.72. doi:10.1016/j.polymer.2018.10.031 

L. Rickard Dickinson, Bart M. J. M. Suijkerbuijk, Steffen Berg, Fons H. M. Marcelis, and Hannes C. Schniepp "Atomic Force Spectroscopy Using Colloidal Tips Functionalized with Dried Crude Oil: A Versatile Tool to Investigate Oil?Mineral Interactions" Energy & Fuels, v., 2016, p.. doi:10.1021/acs.energyfuels.6b01862 


Project Outcomes Report

Disclaimer

This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content.

We made novel materials based on plastics, featuring enhanced strength, stiffness, electrical and thermal conductivity. This was accomplished by adding graphene, an atomically thin form of super-strong and conductive carbon, to plastics. Therefore, we produced graphene flakes of outstanding quality from graphite, using a novel technique that combines an oil-like and a water-like solvent to make an emulsion. Surprisingly, graphite decomposes easily into graphene flakes at the interface of oil and water, which we used to mass-produce an impressive material. In addition to its importance in making new nanocomposite materials, this process can also be used to make graphene in bulk armounts for many other applications. Because of the great potential for applications, a better understanding of this surprising graphite "exfoliation" process is important. 

We were particularly interested to understand the forces leading to the exfoliation into these extremely small graphene micro- and nanoparticles. Due to the small size of these particles, the corresponding forces are also extremely small, only a fraction of the weight of a millionth of a pound. We used a very sensitive atomic force microscope to detect these forces and to prove that the graphene flakes are strongly attracted to the oil/water interface through hydrophobic forces with an unexpectedly long range. The presence of these previously unknown forces is most likely what drives the exfoliation of graphite into graphene. 

We also developed a powerful technique to mass-characterize the thickness and size of exfoliated graphene sheets very efficiently using only optical imaging, which is relatively affordable. This technique can also be applied to any other 2-dimensional material. We therefore expect this technique to be widely used in this field.

The outcomes of this work were presented at conferences and published in peer-reviewed science journals. We further trained a significant number of undergraduate and graduate students as a part of this project, and we carried out outreach activities for middle school and high school students. The outreach activities were created to provide the students with exciting science experiences and to open up perspectives for them about careers in STEM fields. 


Last Modified: 03/31/2021
Modified by: Hannes C Schniepp

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