Polymer and Materials Characterization Laboratory
NSF Instrumentation Grant allows for strength-testing of certain newly developed materials
Three faculty members from the Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and
Technology are shown with a new Dynamic Mechanical Analyzer that was purchased through
a Major Research Instrumentation grant award. They are (from left) Dr. Kevin Miller,
principal investigator for the grant, and Dr. Rachel Allenbaugh and Dr. Daniel Johnson,
— MSU photo provided
Murray State University’s department of chemistry was awarded a highly competitive Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for $149,940 to purchase a Dynamic Mechanical Analyzer (DMA).
Three chemistry faculty members will serve together at the helm of the grant — Dr. Kevin Miller, assistant professor, serves as the principal investigator, while Dr. Daniel Johnson, associate professor, and Dr. Rachel Allenbaugh, assistant professor, are the co-principal investigators.
The DMA allows for the mechanical testing of polymeric films, fibers and liquid crystalline materials under controlled temperature and humidity conditions. Such testing is important in order to determine if the mechanical strength of newly developed materials match or exceed those that are currently used in commercial products. Application areas that may be directly affected include coatings, adhesives, electromechanical devices such as actuators, separation membranes, microfluidics and liquid crystalline devices.
The Dynamic Mechanical Analyzer will enhance a rapidly growing research and curriculum program in polymer and materials science, and provides the MSU department of chemistry with a full complement of instruments for polymer and materials characterization. The department already has a differential scanning calorimeter, a thermogravimetric analyzer, a gel permeation chromatography system, a density meter and two viscometers, making Murray State the only university in the region to have such capabilities. All of the instrumentation is located in the Polymer and Materials Characterization Lab in Jesse D. Jones Hall on campus.
The acquisition of the DMA is critical to research efforts within the department of chemistry. Specific projects that will benefit directly from this grant award include synthesis and characterization of ionic-liquid containing polyester networks for use in electroactive devices (Miller), synthesis and characterization of ionic liquid-containing polyurethanes for microfluidic devices and ion exchange membranes (Johnson), and synthesis and characterization of liquid crystalline materials (Allenbaugh). Additionally, meaningful industrial partnerships with Ashland Chemical and Estron Chemical Inc., both of which are located in Calvert City, are being developed as a result of this grant.
The state-of-the-art instrumentation will also enhance curriculum development in the department of chemistry and the Institute of Engineering. As an example, Dr. Hamid Kobraei, a professor of physics in the Institute of Engineering at Murray State, has a project included in the grant.
Additionally, the overall suite of instruments will enhance the education of students who enroll in the new polymer and materials science track in the chemistry. The new degree track was offered for the first time in the fall of 2014 and emphasizes the industrial and engineering aspects of chemistry.
This facility is equipped to perform various characterization techniques of polymers and other materials. The facility is made possible through the support of Dr. Jesse D. Jones and the Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology.
Major instrumentation in this facility includes the following:
TA Instruments Q200 Differential Scanning Calorimeter (DSC),
cooling capability to -90 °C
TA Instruments Q500 Thermogravimetric Analyzer (TGA)
Waters Gel Permeation Chromatography (GPC) System
Anton Parr Density Meter-Model DMA 4100
Small Volume Brookfield Viscometer
Small Volume Brookfield cone/plate Viscometer
TA Instruments Q800 Dynamic Mechanical Analyzer, complete
with low temperature, humidity and submersion capabilities
(NSF-MRI award #DMR-1427778).