University of Missouri
Event Type:
MSE Seminar
Talk Title:
Molecular Control of Charged Co-Polymers for Electrochemical Applications
College of Computing Building Room 16, Georgia Tech


Charged polymers in the same class as polyethylenedioxythiophene (PEDOT), polypyrrole (PPy), and polyaniline (PAni) can be both electronic and ionic conductors, and also undergo redox reactions to store charge, making them appealing for applications in energy storage, electrochemical desalination, and chemical sensing. Historical synthesis approaches for these polymers have been homogeneous in nature, where, for example, when two monomers are combined to form a co-polymer, they form a stochastic distribution of local molecular sequences and configurations within the final material. This has made it challenging to understand and rationally control polymer properties. Here, we report on our recent efforts to control the molecular structure of this class of charged (co-)polymers to reveal insights into the molecular-level origins of their properties. We have worked to establish synthesis approaches employing (a) vapor-phase growth of polymer chains using sequential self-limiting surface reactions to control co-polymer sequence and (b) crosslinking of the polymer structure using different chain-length crosslinkers to improve control of the pore structure within the polymers. Together, these approaches have helped reveal fundamental insights into the molecular-level origins of polymer properties. This talk describes (1) mechanistic understanding of vapor-phase growth chemistry, (2) observation of emergent properties in copolymers with controlled molecular sequence, and (3) insights into pore size effects on charge capacity and ion selectivity. We also report on the extension of these polymer synthesis approaches to electrochemical applications and describe the outlook for high throughput autonomous research to explore the vast landscape of polymers accessible through these synthesis approaches.


Matthias J. Young is an Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri. Young received a BS in chemical engineering from the University of Missouri, and a PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Colorado-Boulder. He is a former NSF GRFP fellow and NRC postdoctoral fellow. Young also worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Argonne National Laboratory prior to joining the faculty at the University of Missouri in 2018. Young’s group focuses on the intersection of thin film coating chemistry and electrochemical material properties with a focus on vapor-phase polymer deposition. Young was the 2020 recipient of the Paul H. Holloway Young Investigator Award from the American Vacuum Society Thin Film Division, the 2023 recipient of the AVS Prairie Chapter Early Career Award and is an ACS PRF and NSF CAREER award recipient.