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Research

Research Theme - Functional Polymers and Nanocomposites

- Biodegradable Polymer Packaging - Design, Synthesis and Manufacturing

The sustainability of bioplastics can be quantified through CO2 emissions and technical substitution potential, the latter describes to what extent that petrochemical-based plastics can be substituted by bioplastics with similar properties, such as processing capacity at industry scale, mechanical robustness, thermal resistance and stability. This has raised new challenges for biodegradable polymers. For future high performance bioplastics to be reliably applied in engineering environments, biodegradable polymers must have high thermal and mechanical properties, chemical resistance and good processibility in order to compete those well-developed engineering polymers. The examples for challenging applications are, but not limited to, high temperature packaging for hot food, clothing and electronics; devices that are difficult to access such as in deep ocean or oil field, which require the polymers to degrade after fulfil their duties and leave no harmful debris to the environment.

Poly(glycolic acid) (PGA): a versatile building block expanding high performance and sustainable bioplastic applications

PGA

Self-healing Elastomeric Nanocomposites for Energy Harvesting and Storage

This is the first report of self-healing of both electrical breakdown and mechanical damage in dielectric actuators using a thermoplastic methyl thioglycolate modified styrene-butadiene-styrene (MGSBS) elastomer. After dielectric breakdown, the dielectric strength can be recovered by up to 67%, and after mechanical damage a 39% recovery can be achieved with no degradation of the strain-voltage response of the actuators.

Electrical and Mechanical Self‐Healing in High‐Performance Dielectric Elastomer Actuator Materials

- Interface design for high energy density polymer nanocomposites

Interface between nanoparticles (such as graphene, carbon nanotube and silicon) and polymers can be designed and tailored to reinforce the interfacial interaction with polymer matrices. Various chemstry and physical approaches have been developed and investigated for a range of nanocomposites, in order to elucidate the relationship of interface and properties (such as reinforcement, adhesion, gas barrier, electrical conductivity) at multiscale levels.

- Electrospun polymer nanocomposites

  • Electrospun PVDF nanofibers containing 100% beta crystal phase are applied as electrical capacitors;
  • Carbonised polymer nanofibrous fibers with in situ doped heteroatoms are suitable for electrochemical energy storage applications

fibers

- Gas barrier and anticorrosive nanocoatings

2D nanomaterials modified polymer nanocoatings can maintain oxygen levels inside packaging for an increased duration of freshness and inhibition of the growth of aerobic microorganisms, meanwhile hinder the corrosion process of steel-based food packaging.

gas barrier

- Mesoporous carbon nanocomposites for energy storage

  • Synthesis of carbon-based nanocomposites, including surface-functionalisation of carbon nanoparticles (carbon nanotube, graphene and mesoporous carbon), dispersion mechanism and interfacial interactions with polymers
  • Intrinsic modification of carbon structures; Hybrid carbon nanostructures for electrochemical energy storage
  • Solid electrolytes, gel electrolytes and hybrid electrolytes

Project

Monash-Warwick Alliance 2017
UK-China International Partnership, 2013-2015
EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing, EngD studentship, 2016-2020
EPRSC iCASE PhD studentship, 2016-2020

Facilities

Wet-chemistry labs, ultrasound, hydrothermal, electrochemical synthesis
Polylab system, twin-extrusion, micro-injection moulding, hot-press, electrospinning, freeze-drying, calcination