Mesophorous Block copolymer membrane
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The Symposium provides undergraduates from all academic disciplines with an opportunity to share their research with the university community and other guests through conference-style oral presentations. The Symposium represents part of a larger effort of Iowa State University to enhance, support, and celebrate undergraduate research activity.
Though coordinated by the University Honors Program, all undergraduate students are eligible and encouraged to participate in the Symposium. Undergraduates conducting research but not yet ready to present their work are encouraged to attend the Symposium to learn about the presentation process and students not currently involved in research are encouraged to attend the Symposium to learn about the broad range of undergraduate research activities that are taking place at ISU.
The first Symposium was held in April 2007. The 39 students who presented research and their mentors collectively represented all of ISU's Colleges: Agriculture and Life Sciences, Business, Design, Engineering, Human Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Veterinary Medicine, and the Graduate College. The event has grown to regularly include more than 100 students presenting on topics that span the broad range of disciplines studied at ISU.
Block-copolymer research has long been a center of attention among engineers and scientists seeking solutions to combine two thermodynamically incompatible polymers with hybrid properties. This research focuses on creating triblock copolymers from polystyrene, polyisoprene, and polydimethylsiloxane using an anionic polymerization technique to synthesize then etch of one of the polymer’s block to form a mesophorous membrane. A series of experiments was conducted to form block-copolymers of different molecular weights, which were then tested for their flexibility and permeability. The goal is to develop suitable block-copolymer membranes that can be tailored to the specific needs to support “microbial factory” that are currently facing the incompatible polymer separations challenges.