A computational technique to knowing how ions in polymer liquids interact could
unlock much better strategies of building lithium polymer batteries and purifying drinking water.
Issei Nakamura, assistant professor of physics at Michigan Technological University, has been given a Countrywide Science Basis
(NSF) Faculty Early Vocation Plan (Vocation) Award for his investigate on computational strategies to simulate how polymeric liquids interact
with electric powered rates.
About the Researcher
Nakamura researches smooth products — with distinct focus on ionic liquids (liquid salts) and polymers — which can
be human-manufactured like the plastics all over your dwelling, or pure like silk and DNA.
Even though ion-made up of polymer liquids are used in many programs, these kinds of as
rechargeable batteries, we nevertheless absence a full knowing of how they do the job. In collaboration
with Amalie Frischknecht and Mark J. Stevens at Sandia Countrywide Laboratories, Nakamura studies how billed molecules — ions — interact in a polymer liquid
Ionic liquids possess attributes these kinds of as electrochemical balance, higher cost density,
tunable polarity and lower volatility that empower their common application in supercapacitors,
gasoline cells and electrochemical actuators.
“Even a small change in molecular cost change has a enormous impact on the macroscopic
thermodynamic properties of liquids,” Nakamura mentioned.
Nakamura’s time-dependent simulations will assist him and fellow researchers much better
understand how molecules reply to an exterior electrostatic subject and how those people
reactions affect how polymers present an insulating dielectric reaction.
“This simulation does calculations about how ions and molecules shift as time proceeds,”
Nakamura mentioned. “We see a cost distribution in the molecules. We visualize how ions
and molecules by themselves interact with every single other, but also extract data about
how the rates interact.”
Grants and Funding
Countrywide Science Basis 1944211
And for the reason that polymers are commonly in movement, Nakamura’s simulations exhibit
cost interactions amongst going polymers and liquids. Polymers are likely to be extended and
unwieldy. Consider operating a hand by way of a cobweb and then striving to untangle it.
In a liquid, polymers can get sticky like the cobweb, or force away from ions and other
sections of its personal polymer chains. These interactions are advanced, and Nakamura utilizes
a finely tuned physics product to check out to understand the movement much better. If we can untangle
the cobweb, it opens up alternatives for new products, much better batteries, faster
drinking water remedy and extra.
Nanomaterial Simulations and Instruction
A substantial ingredient of any Vocation Award is the development of academic products
for the future era of scientists. Nakamura has proposed to do the job with Keweenaw
K-twelve faculties to assist college students do laptop simulations working with open up-supply program.
Setting up on the programming know-how many college students presently have — coding is figured out
at more and more more youthful ages, often by way of laptop games or programmable toys —
Nakamura plans to exhibit how college students can visualize molecular motions working with programming
or simulation program.
“That was extremely hard when I was a higher faculty university student,” he mentioned. “We did not have that
kind of program and programming was not frequent practice by higher faculty college students.”
Nakamura’s personal fascination in laptop simulations arrives from playing games that ended up
precursors to Nintendo as a youngster in Japan. His mothers and fathers ended up rigid about his schooling
and homework having priority immediately after faculty, so Nakamura began waking up early to get
in an hour or two of movie games in the early morning.
“That could have been the spark for my fascination in the environment of simulations,” he mentioned,
joking that restricting display time “might restrict your child’s capability to become a
In all seriousness, Nakamura sees the environment of laptop simulations as an additional device
by which to understand the environment.
“Visualizing what we investigate is rather essential, specifically for college students,” he mentioned.
“Like some movie games, simulations are just an additional way to discover.”
Michigan Technological University is a public investigate university, dwelling to extra than
seven,000 college students from fifty four nations around the world. Started in 1885, the University features extra than
120 undergraduate and graduate degree plans in science and technological know-how, engineering,
forestry, business enterprise and economics, wellness professions, humanities, mathematics, and
social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Higher Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway
and is just a handful of miles from Lake Remarkable.