Publication Date

A Physicochemical Exploration of the Diffusion of Small Molecules in Glassy and Highly-Viscous Materials
The American Chemical Society (Award ID: #54592-UN16)
Petroleum Research Fund – Undergraduate Research Faculty Grants Program
Award Date: 06/06/2014 | Award Amount $55,000 | Effective Dates: 07/01/2014 – 08/31/2016
Project Personnel: Principal Investigator Andrew Huisman (Chemistry)
Project Summary: Diffusion is a process fundamental to molecular motion that is of interest when molecules reach an interface (e.g. methanol in a fuel cell) or penetrate a viscous or vitreous material (e.g. aging of polymers by ozone). This study explores the molecular diffusivity of a small tracer molecule in highly viscous systems. A basic relationship between the observed diffusivity and the physicochemical properties of the system is sought. In addition to water, the diffusive behavior of small organics such as methanol and ethanol (used in chemical synthesis and many industrial processes) in viscous and glassy media will be explored. The construction of a new sample cell with controlled temperature and relative humidity will be required as temperature and especially relative humidity play a strong role in determining the viscosity of a sample. Under high humidity, hygroscopic samples swell and soften. A Mechanical Engineering student will play a strong role in the design and fabrication of the temperature and humidity-controlled sample cell for the Raman microscope. After the sample cell is completed, the ME student will be able to play a role in the continuing construction and improvement of the Union College EDB according to the needs of the lab and their interests, as well as performing the experiments described in this proposal. A Chemistry student will be responsible for the acquisition and analysis of data taken on the EDB and will plan and execute experiments in consultation with the PI.