Mr. Travis Thornell
School of Materials Engineering
BS Polymer Science, University of Southern Mississippi
Project: rheometry and synthesis of composite hydrogels
Recent Project Highlights: fracture-healing behavior of polymer gels
The kinetics of fracture and self healing of model physically associating triblock copolymer gels were studied with shear rheometry and particle tracking flow visualization methods. The polymer was composed of poly(methyl methacrylate) end blocks connected by a poly(n-butyl acrylate) mid block in a midblock selective solvent. Gels were fractured under a controlled shear rate at various temperatures to measure their shear responses. Gels were allowed to rest and were re-fractured to calculate the recovered strength. Given enough time, gels were able to fully recover. By using the time needed for 100% recovery and the characteristic relaxation times of the gels, Arrhenius relationships were found to describe the fracture healing kinetics of the networks. This work was recently published in ACS Macro Letters (DOI: 10.1021/mz500524d)
Travis graduated with his B.S. in Polymer Science from the University of Southern Mississippi in spring 2013. His undergraduate research was in the area of epoxy-amine formulations for aerospace applications under Prof. Jeffrey Wiggins at USM. His interest in polymer physics led him to join Prof. Erk’s SMMG at Purdue in October 2013. Outside of the lab, Travis is an avid sports fan and coached the department's softball team in the West Lafayette Adult Corec League this past summer. Prof. Erk played first base for the team, which finished 3rd in the league.