Polymer Science and Engineering, Statistical Thermodynamics, Molecular Simulation
Gregory C. Rutledge|
Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering
Director, Program in Polymer Science and Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Room 66-548
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139, U.S.A.
Polymers represent perhaps the largest and fastest-growing area of materials for engineering applications. Chemical engineers play a central role in this field, through their unique combination of chemical knowledge, quantitative analytical ability, and engineering problem-solving experience. The goal of our research is to build on these three fundamental strengths to develop methods for study of, and insights into, the properties of polymeric materials, and processes based on these polymers, from a fundamental knowledge of their chemistry and molecular level structure.
Areas of research include the development of advanced, atomically-detailed modeling methods to determine the molecular level origin for a wide spectrum of polymer properties and thermodynamic quantities. Through advances in computer speed and improvements in both accuracy and generality of the techniques, these modeling methods are growing in importance for engineering applications and design of new materials, and in areas where direct experimental characterization is practically impossible. Concurrent with model development, we pursue methods to process and analyze polymers in the laboratory, in order to understand the connection between engineering variables and chemical structure in creating unique and technologically important materials and morphologies. Novel applications of X-ray scattering, nuclear magnetic resonance, and atomic force microscopy are among the techniques employed in our lab. Some current research topics include:
- Development of algorithms for multiscale and inverse problems.
- Molecular modeling of semicrystalline and nanocomposite interphases.
- Development of crystallinity and molecular level orientation during processing.
- Formation and properties of nanofibers by electrospinning.
- Modeling of complex fluids and polymers (e.g. liquid crystalline, amphiphilic)
- Polymers in the environment and in applications relevant to environmental problems.