Dr. David S. Simmons has been awarded a funding prize to assist with his research project
A polymer engineer has been awarded a funding prize to find an answer to the long-standing question of why some materials can act like solids without crystallising.
This question – the central issue in the study of the “glass transition” – is one of the longest standing and most technologically important problems in materials science and soft matter physics.
Dr. David S. Simmons, an assistant professor in the Department of Polymer Engineering at The University of Akron, has been awarded a prestigious grant to look into the problem.
Success of this project will accelerate the development of materials with the potential to improve human health, enable a cleaner domestic energy economy, enhance the lightness and durability of auto and aircraft components, and broaden the versatility of electronics and solar cells.
Simmons’ project, ‘Glass formation in strongly interacting polymers — predictive understanding from high-throughput simulation and theory,’ will employ computer simulations and theoretical approaches to understanding the glass transition in strongly interacting polymers.
Because these polymers contain powerful electrostatic and hydrogen bonding interactions at the molecular level, they are leading candidates for next-generation materials needed to enable transformational technologies such as flexible solar cells, stable next-generation batteries and room-temperature stable vaccines.
“A predictive understanding of the glass transition in strongly interacting polymers would enable material scientists to rationally design polymers with extraordinary properties from first principles,” explained Simmons. “This would enable us to move beyond the trial-and-error design that dominates in the absence of fundamental understanding.”
The funding prize received by Simmons is from the National Science Foundation.