Polymer Talks

SPC Quarterly Talks

Every quarter, a professor or research scientist in industry is invited by SPC to give a special polymer-related seminar at Stanford. See who we’ve so far had the pleasure of inviting in past quarters!

  • Quarterly Talks

Ohm’s Law, Polymer Electrolytes, and Lithium Batteries 
Prof. Nitash P. Balsara
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department and Environmental Energy Technologies and Materials Sciences Divisions, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720
Abstract | The need for creating safe electrolytes for lithium batteries is significant given the continued safety problems associated with current lithium-ion batteries. Nonflammable polymer electrolytes offer a possible solution but the rate of lithium ion transport is too low for practical applications. In this talk, I will discuss some of the fundamental factors that limit ion transport in polymers. Polymer electrolytes obey Ohm’s Law, i.e. in the limit of small applied potentials, the current generated at steady state is proportional to the applied potential. The underpinnings of this observation, which remains to be established, will be discussed.  We will discuss both homogeneous and nanostructured polymer electrolytes. The talk will conclude with the relevance of these material in the emerging clean energy landscape.

Engineering Polymers from Secondhand Materials: Plastics as a resource for chemistry & the development of revertible thermosets
Jeannette M. Garcia, PhD
Researcher in Materials, Polymer Synthesis and Characterization, IBM Almaden Research Center

Abstract | It is estimated that ~150 million tons of plastics are produced annually worldwide. However, in the US, less than 10% of polymers are recycled due to inefficient recycling methods. Therefore, a need for the re-purposing of polymer waste and alternate recycling technologies has arisen. This talk will focus on using waste polycarbonates and polyethylene terephthalate as monomer sources for the synthesis of value-added materials with improved thermal and mechanical properties. Experimental methods and conditions for depolymerization of polymers and repolymerization as well as computational modeling for the reactions will be discussed.

Background | Dr. Garcia is one of MIT Tech Review’s 2015 35 Innovators Under 35, one of Business Insider’s 17 IBM Research Rock Stars, and the recipient of the Individual World Technology Award in Materials. She has authored over 28 papers, has over 70 patents granted and pending and is an IBM Master Inventor. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Scientific American.

Catalytic Polymerization to Generate Functional Materials
Prof. Bob Waymouth

Mango Materials: Production of biodegradable plastics and the adventures of a start-up company
Molly Morse, PhD in Civil & Environmental Engineering from Stanford (Criddle Group)
CEO of Mango Materials

Abstract | Mango Materials, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, uses a patented, low impact, and energy efficient biological process to produce bioplastic from methane gas. This methane can be from “waste” sources such as water treatment plants, landfills, and agricultural facilities. To produce this plastic, non-genetically modified bacteria are cultivated and specific conditions are applied to stimulate production of the biopolymer polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA). This talk will discuss the use of methane as a feedstock, the microbial production of PHA, the journey towards commercialization and the adventure of starting a company based off of early-stage academic research.

Background | Dr. Molly Morse is the CEO and co-founder of Mango Materials, a San Francisco Bay Area-based start-up company that uses methane gas to feed bacteria that manufacture a biopolymer. Molly received her Ph.D. in Civil & Environmental Engineering–with an emphasis on anaerobic biodegradation of biocomposites for the building industry–from Stanford University, and her B.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Cornell University. Dr. Morse has contributed to multiple patents, publications and presentations.  Along with other Mango Materials team members, she is currently working to up-scale the technology of using methane gas to produce a biodegradable polymer.

Other Polymer Talks At Stanford

In addition to SPC-hosted quarterly talks, SPC also aims to keep students and postdocs up-to-date regarding other polymer talks on campus.