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New Methods for Characterizing Polymers in Their 2nd Century
Presented by Prof. Mitchell Wang
Hosted by Prof. Kaufman
The Wang Lab develops new methods for characterizing polymers to address today’s challenges, with the philosophy that new methods for seeing and measuring often open completely new fields of application and fundamental study. As an example, we use single-molecule super-resolution microscopy to image samples in their native environments and watch them as they evolve. We have applied this to fundamental questions in polymer self-assembly, mechanics, and dynamics, enabling engineers to control where and when something happens in a polymeric material. For example, we have recently answered the question of what a polymer looks like in a solid material, for the first time. Separately, we are developing high-throughput characterization methods for mechanical properties in soft materials. These techniques can change the way materials are designed in the era of AI and machine learning.
Muzhou “Mitchell” Wang received his undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from Caltech, where he worked with Prof. Julia A. Kornfield. He then went to MIT for his Ph.D. studies, joining Prof. Bradley D. Olsen as his first student. In the Olsen group, he used experiments and simulations to understand the dynamics of entangled block copolymers. He continued his work as a National Research Council postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, where he worked on super-resolution optical microscopy of nanofabricated polymer materials with Dr. Jeffrey W. Gilman and Dr. J. Alexander Liddle. He started his group at Northwestern in 2017, where he has been recognized with a number of honors including an NSF CAREER award, an APS DPOLY/UKPPG Lectureship, and an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship.