A computational approach to understanding how ions in polymer liquids interact could
unlock superior methods of building lithium polymer batteries and purifying h2o.
Issei Nakamura, assistant professor of physics at Michigan Technological University, has been given a National Science Basis
(NSF) College Early Career Application (Career) Award for his exploration on computational methods to simulate how polymeric liquids interact
with electric expenses.
About the Researcher
Nakamura researches comfortable resources — with distinct emphasis on ionic liquids (liquid salts) and polymers — which can
be human-made like the plastics about your household, or organic like silk and DNA.
Even although ion-made up of polymer liquids are made use of in numerous programs, this kind of as
rechargeable batteries, we even now lack a total understanding of how they get the job done. In collaboration
with Amalie Frischknecht and Mark J. Stevens at Sandia National Laboratories, Nakamura reports how billed molecules — ions — interact within just a polymer liquid
Ionic liquids possess characteristics this kind of as electrochemical balance, large cost density,
tunable polarity and lower volatility that allow their widespread software in supercapacitors,
gas cells and electrochemical actuators.
“Even a modest variation in molecular cost variation has a enormous influence on the macroscopic
thermodynamic homes of liquids,” Nakamura mentioned.
Nakamura’s time-dependent simulations will enable him and fellow scientists superior
realize how molecules respond to an exterior electrostatic industry and how these
reactions have an affect on how polymers provide an insulating dielectric response.
“This simulation does calculations about how ions and molecules transfer as time proceeds,”
Nakamura mentioned. “We see a cost distribution in the molecules. We visualize how ions
and molecules on their own interact with each and every other, but also extract facts about
how the expenses interact.”
Grants and Funding
National Science Basis 1944211
And since polymers are often in movement, Nakamura’s simulations display
cost interactions between relocating polymers and liquids. Polymers are likely to be very long and
unwieldy. Consider working a hand via a cobweb and then hoping to untangle it.
In a liquid, polymers can get sticky like the cobweb, or drive away from ions and other
sections of its individual polymer chains. These interactions are complex, and Nakamura utilizes
a finely tuned physics design to test to realize the movement superior. If we can untangle
the cobweb, it opens up alternatives for new resources, superior batteries, a lot quicker
h2o remedy and more.
Nanomaterial Simulations and Education
A significant component of any Career Award is the development of academic resources
for the up coming era of scientists. Nakamura has proposed to get the job done with Keweenaw
K-12 colleges to enable college students do computer system simulations utilizing open up-supply software program.
Creating on the programming information numerous college students by now have — coding is learned
at ever more more youthful ages, normally via computer system online games or programmable toys —
Nakamura strategies to display how college students can visualize molecular motions utilizing programming
or simulation software program.
“That was impossible when I was a large school college student,” he mentioned. “We did not have that
variety of software program and programming wasn’t widespread practice by large school college students.”
Nakamura’s individual curiosity in computer system simulations will come from playing online games that were being
precursors to Nintendo as a child in Japan. His parents were being stringent about his schooling
and homework taking priority following school, so Nakamura commenced waking up early to get
in an hour or two of online video online games in the morning.
“That might have been the spark for my curiosity in the environment of simulations,” he mentioned,
joking that restricting display screen time “might limit your child’s ability to grow to be a
In all seriousness, Nakamura sees the environment of computer system simulations as yet another device
by which to realize the environment.
“Visualizing what we exploration is really vital, especially for college students,” he mentioned.
“Like some online video online games, simulations are just yet another way to find out.”
Michigan Technological University is a community exploration college, residence to more than
7,000 college students from fifty four nations. Founded in 1885, the University gives more than
120 undergraduate and graduate degree applications in science and engineering, engineering,
forestry, company and economics, health and fitness professions, humanities, mathematics, and
social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway
and is just a few miles from Lake Top-quality.