A computational technique to comprehending how ions in polymer liquids interact could
unlock superior approaches of making lithium polymer batteries and purifying water.
Issei Nakamura, assistant professor of physics at Michigan Technological University, has acquired a National Science Foundation
(NSF) College Early Vocation Method (Vocation) Award for his analysis on computational approaches to simulate how polymeric liquids interact
with electric powered charges.
About the Researcher
Nakamura researches gentle supplies — with individual focus on ionic liquids (liquid salts) and polymers — which can
be human-made like the plastics all-around your property, or pure like silk and DNA.
Even even though ion-containing polymer liquids are utilised in many purposes, this sort of as
rechargeable batteries, we nevertheless absence a entire comprehending of how they do the job. In collaboration
with Amalie Frischknecht and Mark J. Stevens at Sandia National Laboratories, Nakamura experiments how billed molecules — ions — interact inside of a polymer liquid
Ionic liquids possess attributes this sort of as electrochemical stability, superior demand density,
tunable polarity and low volatility that permit their prevalent software in supercapacitors,
gasoline cells and electrochemical actuators.
“Even a tiny variation in molecular demand variation has a substantial outcome on the macroscopic
thermodynamic homes of liquids,” Nakamura explained.
Nakamura’s time-dependent simulations will aid him and fellow researchers superior
comprehend how molecules react to an external electrostatic industry and how people
reactions influence how polymers deliver an insulating dielectric reaction.
“This simulation does calculations about how ions and molecules go as time proceeds,”
Nakamura explained. “We see a demand distribution in the molecules. We visualize how ions
and molecules by themselves interact with every other, but also extract details about
how the charges interact.”
Grants and Funding
National Science Foundation 1944211
And simply because polymers are usually in motion, Nakamura’s simulations show
demand interactions amongst relocating polymers and liquids. Polymers tend to be long and
unwieldy. Imagine running a hand by a cobweb and then striving to untangle it.
In a liquid, polymers can get sticky like the cobweb, or press absent from ions and other
sections of its have polymer chains. These interactions are sophisticated, and Nakamura employs
a finely tuned physics model to try out to comprehend the motion superior. If we can untangle
the cobweb, it opens up opportunities for new supplies, superior batteries, more rapidly
water procedure and far more.
Nanomaterial Simulations and Education and learning
A considerable element of any Vocation Award is the creation of instructional supplies
for the subsequent technology of researchers. Nakamura has proposed to do the job with Keweenaw
K-12 educational institutions to aid college students do laptop simulations applying open-supply application.
Setting up on the programming awareness many college students by now have — coding is realized
at progressively youthful ages, typically by laptop games or programmable toys —
Nakamura designs to show how college students can visualize molecular motions applying programming
or simulation application.
“That was not possible when I was a superior school scholar,” he explained. “We did not have that
kind of application and programming wasn’t typical practice by superior school college students.”
Nakamura’s have curiosity in laptop simulations arrives from participating in games that ended up
precursors to Nintendo as a youngster in Japan. His parents ended up strict about his schooling
and homework using precedence following school, so Nakamura commenced waking up early to get
in an hour or two of movie games in the morning.
“That may have been the spark for my curiosity in the world of simulations,” he explained,
joking that proscribing screen time “might limit your child’s skill to turn out to be a
In all seriousness, Nakamura sees the world of laptop simulations as an additional tool
by which to comprehend the world.
“Visualizing what we analysis is pretty vital, specifically for college students,” he explained.
“Like some movie games, simulations are just an additional way to master.”
Michigan Technological University is a community analysis university, home to far more than
seven,000 college students from 54 nations around the world. Founded in 1885, the University presents far more than
one hundred twenty undergraduate and graduate diploma packages in science and technology, engineering,
forestry, business enterprise and economics, health professions, humanities, arithmetic, and
social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway
and is just a few miles from Lake Remarkable.