PhD-project 4b: Out-of-equilibrium materials and devices enabling bi-directional functional communication: assembly and characterization
PhD student: Gianni Pacella
Supervisors: Portale, Faraji
The aim of this PhD project is to develop new polymeric soft materials capable of expressing their functions and of working following the out-of-equilibrium (OoE) logic. These OoE polymers will be the core of new functional iontronicsdevices enabling controlled proton and ion transport.
To achieve the proposed objectives we aim to prepare polymeric materials following two main strategies: i) the preparation of polymerizable light-activated units and their use in the direct polymerization; ii) the grafting of the light-activated unit to a pre formed polymeric chain and iii) the characterization of their transient ion transport properties and the fabrication of devices (such as sensors and diodes). Several molecules capable of out-of-equilibrium proton release, i.e. photoacids, will be synthetized and characterized during this PhD and also theorical calculation will be performed as a support tool for the synthesis to try to obtain units with enhanced properties.
Ion transport will be characterized using impedance spectroscopy and other electrochemically based methods. Cyclic voltammetry will be used in case of redox reactions. AFM and TEM will be used to imagine the nanostructure of the materials at the local scale, while X-ray scattering (SAXS and WAXS) will be used to probe the nanostructure of the material on a large scale, in the suospension/gel/membrane state and with the possibility to measure structural modifications in-situ (i.e. during light exposure, change of pH, etc).