Integrated Experiments And Modeling Of Smart Polymeric Gels

Project: Research project

Project Details


This award supports fundamental research to provide new knowledge toward understanding the behavior of smart polymeric gels. These materials change in shape in response to various stimuli, and are ubiquitous in the modern world. They find diverse use in several important applications including carriers for drug delivery, actuators and sensors, tissue engineering matrices, and packers for zonal isolation in oil wells and hydraulic fracturing operations. Limitations in the fundamental understanding of the material behavior and a lack of experimental data hinder efficient analysis. The results of this research would further expand the use of smart polymeric gels by providing validated and verified engineering simulation tools. In addition, engaging of underrepresented undergraduate groups in research will broaden STEM participation. The program provides pre-college inner city students the opportunity to participate in an educational activity involving basic mechanics of materials and structures. This activity will focus on the mechanics of beam bending of structures made with 3D printed polymers. Therefore, the results from this research will have a positive impact on society, the economy, and education at all levels from pre-college to post-graduate. The computer code developed under this award will be shared with the research community.

The research objective of this project is to conduct research on a new experimentally validated simulation-based capability for the robust analysis of devices made from responsive gels, both neutral and ionic. The research program systematically studies the multiphysics large-deformation coupled behavior of stimulus-responsive smart polymeric gels, in which the swelling is regulated by temperature, concentration of ions, or pH. The research team will conduct multiphysics experiments on a number of polymeric gel systems to obtain the material's behavior under a wide range of conditions. Based on the experiments, new physically motivated constitute theories will be formulated in a thermodynamically consistent continuum mechanics setting. Those theories will be numerically implemented into a finite element simulation capability by writing user defined elements that couple all the relevant physics, such as fluid diffusion, large deformation elasticity, heat conduction, and the conservation of species. Lastly, the team will validate the predictive capability of the theories and their numerical implementation in complex three-dimensional geometries not used for calibration. Bringing experiments, theory, and computation together, our integrated research program provides an indispensable experimental data set, as well as a new constitutive framework, and traNational Science Foundation ormative numerical capability for the modeling and simulation of devices made from stimulus responsive gels.
Effective start/end date9/1/158/31/18


  • National Science Foundation


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