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Research Abstracts Online
January 2010 - March 2011

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
College of Science and Engineering
Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science

PI: Satish Kumar, Associate Fellow

Continuum and Nanoscale Simulations of Polymer Dynamics

These researchers are pursuing two projects aimed at simulating various aspects of polymer dynamics at the nanometer and continuum scales. In the first, they are performing simulations—via finite-difference and spectral methods—of pattern formation in thin polymer films, with the goal of understanding how to tailor external influences to create desired nanometer-scale patterns. Fundamental knowledge gained from this work is expected to benefit a number of technologies including coatings, microfluidics, and biomaterials. The researchers have recently shown how normal AC electric fields can be used to create unique nanostructures in single layer films, and are currently investigating similar phenomena in bilayer films.

The second project involves Brownian dynamics simulations of polyelectrolyte adsorption and diffusion at solid surfaces. This is a fundamental problem relevant to numerous practical applications in materials processing and biophysics. This work aims at clarifying the roles of surface heterogeneity (chemical and topographical), chain branching, and fluid flow on the adsorption and diffusion processes. The researchers have recently characterized how solvent quality and charge patterning affect adsorption in fluid flows and diffusion, and plan to now focus on self-assembly of adsorbed polyelectrolytes. They are also working on several related problems motivated by applications in printing, coating, and microfluidics. These involve Brownian dynamics simulations of colloidal particle adsorption to create patterned particulate coatings, finite-element simulations of free-surface flows with moving contact lines that are relevant for liquid deposition and transfer in printing and coating, finite-element simulations of multiphase flows in topographically patterned microfluidic channels, and finite-difference simulations of liquid film de-wetting on chemically patterned surfaces with application to lithographic printing.

Group Members

Damien Brewer, Graduate Student
Felix Buss, Visiting Researcher
Shawn Dodds, Graduate Student
Sreeram Kalpathy, Graduate Student
Scott Roberts, Graduate Student
Robert R. Shurig, Graduate Student
Eric A. Vandre, Graduate Student
Chunfeng Zhou, Research Associate