Polyimide & Graphene Oxide (GO) : A Start to a Summer of Composites

This summer my research focuses on making polyimide/graphene nanocomposites. Those sure are some words, right? I’d rather just break it down into four introductory questions: [Read more…]

Experiments to Experiments: Final Post

In long term experiments, sometimes it takes experiments to get to the start of new experiments. For my summer in lab, this was the case for much of the time. In my last blog post, I talked about the polymerizations of 11-aminoundecanoic acid. The sample of polymer with four regions pictured in that post has gone on to become a multi-month acid aging experiment. On the very last day of lab, one of my lab peers and I spent the afternoon preparing the acid solutions for this experiment. The samples of polymer will be aged in four different conditions — acetic acid, propionic acid, butyric acid and water, all in a 120C oven. To prepare the samples for aging in anaerobic conditions, argon was bubbled into the pressure tubes in which they aged for a minimum of 20 minutes.

[Read more…]

Plants to Plastic: Polymerization of PA-11, a renewable plastic

I remember being about seven years old and asking my mom, after staring at a plastic straw for a few minutes, “Where does plastic come from?” Her response was the typical answer — plastic is made out of oil. As a child, I thought this was weird, because I knew that petroleum oil was an icky-sticky gross black liquid crud that cars needed for some reason and I couldn’t comprehend how it made the straw for a juice box, but I accepted the answer anyway.

[Read more…]

That might be a bit of a stretch — Materials Testing System

In much of our research in the polymer lab, we’re looking to find molecular weights using the SEC-MALLS (Size Exclusion Chromatography — Multiple Angle Laser Light Scattering) and CIV (Corrected Intrinsic Viscosity). I’ve already written a blog post about CIV and I’ll save SEC-MALLS for later. But sometimes, we look at more than just the molecular weight — we’re looking at the mechanical properties of a sample of aged or fresh polymer.

[Read more…]

Always Buy in Bulk: The Batch TGA Process

By far, the best thing about being in lab everyday, all day is the sense of continuity. During the school year, I log about four hours a week and on rare occasions, a little extra. I’m finding out that’s not enough to get the true sense of continuity of the lab. Seeing projects and long procedures go from beginning to finish.

[Read more…]