Janna Maranas Research Group

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Publication highlights
[More publications...]

Review article on polymer blend dynamics [link]

Interaction of peptides with inorganic surfaces [link]

A new motion in solid polymer electrolytes [link]


Kokonad Sinha

Kokonad Sinha Email: sinha@engr.psu.edu

Office address:
115 Fenske Laboratory
Pennsylvania State University
University Park, 16802

Undergraduate degree
- Chemical Engineering
BTech, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India (2001-2006)
MTech, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India (2001-2006)

Hobbies and interests:
Photography, fiction writing and blogging, action and adventure sports, cartooning and sketching, listening to music

Duration in group: 2006 - 2011

Research Summary

I. Effect of nanoparticle dispersion on conductivity of PEO
Liquid electrolytes used in today's lithium ion batteries pose problems with mechanical flexibility and  toxicity issues at end-of-life disposal. Therefore, scientists are turning to the use of solid polymer electrolytes such as polyethylene oxide (PEO). However, PEO has poor conductivity at room temperature. Recent studies have shown that the addition of about 10 wt% nanoparticles increase the conductivity by a few orders of magnitude, and shows great promise for use in practical applications.

Graph showing increase in conductivity because of added nanoparticles

My research objective is to study the effect of nanoparticle dispersion and spacing on the conductivity of PEO, because this issue has not been addressed so far. I want to investigate the effect of two extreme levels of dispersion - evenly distributed nanoparticles, and aggregated nanoparticles.

Comparing dispersion of nanoparticles

It is widely accepted that high polymer host mobility helps in lithium ion transport, and hence, the conductivity. I want to find out how nanoparticle dispersion affects the mobility of the bulk polymer, and in turn how the conductivity is affected. Measurement of polymer mobility is carried out using neutron scattering, which is discussed in more detail in the research techniques page.
The biggest challenge is to synthesize polymer nanocomposites where we can control the spacing between the nanoparticles. This is because the interaction energies between the particles play a significant role at lengths of the order of 10 nm. Therefore, we are using a method inspired by miniemulsion polymerization so as to achieve uniform dispersion of nanoparticles (alumina).

II. Conductivity and mobility of single-ion conductors (ionomers)
Ionic conductivity in PEO is contributed both by anions and lithium cation. To evaluate the contribution of lithium ion alone and to understand the effect of polymer on just the lithium ion, the anion is chemically bonded to the polymer backbone, rendering it immobile.
Our objective is to study the mechanism of cation transport as a function of the polymer chain length, cation used (lithium or sodium) and the extent of ionization of the polymer chain.


Website designed by Kokonad Sinha © Janna Maranas Research Group
Department of Chemical Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University