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Research work in Integrated Systems Lab focuses on developing novel material systems that utilizes interactions at molecular, nano- and micro- scale in various active materials and achieve novel functionality. The theoretical and experimental studies focus on improving our scientific understanding of the interfacial mechanisms that couple active materials such as bio-derived materials, organic polymers, magnetoelectric materials, piezoelectric materials to result in new functionality.
Self-sensing Magnetoelectric Surgical Tools
Magnetoelectric materials are self-sensing materials and are highly suitable for designing actuators that can be used in closed-loop. The research work focuses on developing magnetoelectric cantilever that can be used as an ablation tool in minimally invasive surgery, as a damper in vibration isolation and as an adaptive mirror in optics. The magnetoelectric material is fabricated from combining a magnetostrictive material such as Galfenol and a piezoelectric material such as lead zirconate titanate (PZT). Current work is targeted towards developing the magnetoelectric cantilever into a smart ablation tool. It is common knowledge that a cantilever can be used as cutting tool in minimally surgery. But a cantilever-cutting tool riding on a catheter will have the tendency to drift due to force generated in the cutting action and hence pose danger to the patient. The novelty in this research is the addition of a second segment to the cantilevered end of the tool that will dynamically stabilize the cutting end of the tool. In order to realize the technical objective, a dynamic model for the magnetoelectric material is developed using variational principles and the principle of virtual work. A control algorithm such as linear-quadratic-regulator will be applied to the dynamic model for precise operation.
Bioderived Ionic Transistors
A novel active material system is formed from integrating the ionic properties of a bio-derived membrane and a conjugated polymer into a thin-film hybrid membrane. This hybrid membrane is a laminate arrangement of bioderived membrane and a conjugated polymer and referred to as a Bioderived Ionic Transistor (BIT). We are investigating changes to the physical properties of a conjugated polymer membrane using proteins (channels, ions and pumps) in bio-derived membranes and developing techniques to fabricate this assembly into a thin-film device for sensing, controlled actuation and energy storage. The research objective of this program is the development of a hybrid membrane that can respond to low power electrical signal (nanowatt) or low concentration chemical trigger and perform electrochemical work using ambient chemical gradients.
Self-Healing Inflatable Extraterrestrial ShieLD (SHIELD)
The team of Astro Terra Corp, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), and Virginia Tech (VT) are developing a composite polymer into a "Self-Healing Inflatable Extraterrestrial ShieLD" (SHIELD) membrane with autonomic self-healing properties and active radiation protection. The multi-layer composite architecture of SHIELD membrane is being designed to have three layers. The outer layer is fabricated from polyimide and the innermost layer is made from a viscoelastic polymer. The middle layer is a self-healing layer fabricated from ionomeric polymers or PDMS-based ionenes and will be the focus of research activities in this program..The team proposes to fabricate the self-healing layer from two polymers (i) an ionomer (Surlyn) and (ii) a novel PDMS-based polyionene and demonstrate autonomic self-sealing in Phase-I. In addition, this polymer layer will be embedded with magnetoelectric nanoparticles and carbon fibers bundles that are in electrical contact and connected to an external circuit. The combination of magnetoelectric nanoparticles and carbon fibers will provide damage detection, resistive and/or inductive heating based self-healing and electromagnetic radiation protection.
Bioderived Nanostructures for Corrosion Control
The research activities in this research program investigates the regulation of pH using bioderived nanostructures and its impact on metal surface corrosion. The bioderived structures are made from phospholipids and proteins that can actively transport protons from one side of the membrane to the other. We are currently investigating BR (Bacteriorhodopsin) reconstituted vesicles on Al2024 and investigating the properties of the metal surface with and without the treatment.
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