A computational solution to comprehension how ions in polymer liquids interact could
unlock greater techniques of building lithium polymer batteries and purifying water.
Issei Nakamura, assistant professor of physics at Michigan Technological College, has obtained a National Science Basis
(NSF) Faculty Early Profession System (Profession) Award for his research on computational techniques to simulate how polymeric liquids interact
with electric expenses.
About the Researcher
Nakamura researches smooth components — with individual aim on ionic liquids (liquid salts) and polymers — which can
be human-manufactured like the plastics close to your residence, or pure like silk and DNA.
Even even though ion-that contains polymer liquids are utilized in quite a few apps, this kind of as
rechargeable batteries, we however lack a whole comprehension of how they function. In collaboration
with Amalie Frischknecht and Mark J. Stevens at Sandia National Laboratories, Nakamura research how charged molecules — ions — interact within just a polymer liquid
Ionic liquids possess characteristics this kind of as electrochemical security, high demand density,
tunable polarity and small volatility that permit their popular software in supercapacitors,
fuel cells and electrochemical actuators.
“Even a little variance in molecular demand variance has a large outcome on the macroscopic
thermodynamic houses of liquids,” Nakamura stated.
Nakamura’s time-dependent simulations will assistance him and fellow researchers greater
comprehend how molecules reply to an exterior electrostatic area and how all those
reactions impact how polymers deliver an insulating dielectric response.
“This simulation does calculations about how ions and molecules move as time proceeds,”
Nakamura stated. “We see a demand distribution in the molecules. We visualize how ions
and molecules themselves interact with every single other, but also extract data about
how the expenses interact.”
Grants and Funding
National Science Basis 1944211
And for the reason that polymers are often in movement, Nakamura’s simulations exhibit
demand interactions amid transferring polymers and liquids. Polymers are likely to be long and
unwieldy. Envision jogging a hand by a cobweb and then making an attempt to untangle it.
In a liquid, polymers can get sticky like the cobweb, or push away from ions and other
sections of its have polymer chains. These interactions are complex, and Nakamura employs
a finely tuned physics model to check out to comprehend the movement greater. If we can untangle
the cobweb, it opens up possibilities for new components, greater batteries, speedier
water therapy and additional.
Nanomaterial Simulations and Training
A considerable element of any Profession Award is the development of academic components
for the upcoming technology of experts. Nakamura has proposed to function with Keweenaw
K-twelve universities to assistance college students do pc simulations employing open up-source software program.
Constructing on the programming understanding quite a few college students by now have — coding is learned
at more and more youthful ages, frequently by pc video games or programmable toys —
Nakamura ideas to exhibit how college students can visualize molecular motions employing programming
or simulation software program.
“That was difficult when I was a high faculty student,” he stated. “We didn’t have that
type of software program and programming was not typical exercise by high faculty college students.”
Nakamura’s have desire in pc simulations arrives from participating in video games that ended up
precursors to Nintendo as a kid in Japan. His mother and father ended up rigorous about his schooling
and homework having priority soon after faculty, so Nakamura started waking up early to get
in an hour or two of video clip video games in the early morning.
“That could have been the spark for my desire in the environment of simulations,” he stated,
joking that limiting screen time “might restrict your child’s skill to develop into a
In all seriousness, Nakamura sees the environment of pc simulations as an additional resource
by which to comprehend the environment.
“Visualizing what we research is fairly important, particularly for college students,” he stated.
“Like some video clip video games, simulations are just an additional way to master.”
Michigan Technological College is a general public research college, household to additional than
seven,000 college students from fifty four nations around the world. Founded in 1885, the College features additional than
120 undergraduate and graduate diploma plans in science and technological innovation, engineering,
forestry, business enterprise and economics, well being professions, humanities, arithmetic, and
social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway
and is just a couple of miles from Lake Top-quality.