The field of conducting polymers has grown exponentially during the past twenty years. These polymers have advantages as light-weight, easily processible materials with potential applications in batteries (some already on the market), sensors, light-emitting diodes (LED’s) and other optoelectornic devices. Research in my group focuses on the synthesis and characterization of several conducting polymers, such as polyacetylene, poly(p-phenylene vinylene) and polyazulene. Specifically, the thermal, optical and electronic properties are important in order to learn how these properties can be controlled for specific device applications.
These polymers are synthesized either chemically or electrochemically. Characterization includes: thermal analysis, vibrational spectroscopy, near-infrared/visible/ultraviolet spectroscopy and quartz crystal microbalance (thin films). Free-standing polymer films are analyzed using dynamic infra-red linear dichroism (DIRLD) which provides information about the relationship between the molecular structure (micro level) and bulk mechanical properties (macro level) of the polymer film.
Collaborations with other departments involve the use of the FT-IR microscope for study of the decomposition process of leaves exposed to fungi, for example.