Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2013

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Chemical and Biochemical Engineering

First Advisor

Guymon, C Allan

First Committee Member

Jessop, Julie

Second Committee Member

Rethwisch, David

Third Committee Member

Nuxoll, Eric

Fourth Committee Member

Grassian, Vicki


Incorporating nanotechnology into polymers has tremendous potential to improve the functionality and performance of polymer materials for use in a wide range of biomedical and industrial applications. This research uses lyotropic liquid crystals (LLCs) to control polymer structure on the nanometer scale in order to improve material properties. The overall goal of this research is to establish fundamental methods of synthesizing polymers with controlled nanostructured architectures in order to understand and utilize useful property relationships that result from the organized polymer morphologies. This work aims to establish a fundamental understanding of the reaction conditions needed to control polymer nanostructure and determine the benefits of organized polymer network structures on mechanical and transport properties.

The synthesis of nanostructured polymers for improved material performance has utilized LLCs and photopolymerization kinetics to direct polymer structure. Self-assembled LLC phases provide a useful template that may be used as a photopolymerization platform to control polymer morphology on the nanometer size scale. Photopolymerization kinetics were used as a tool to examine the thermodynamics and phase structure evolution that occurs during the polymerization reaction. Additionally, several methods were developed to control polymer morphology and prevent loss of LLC order that can occur during polymerization. LLCs were also used to generate nanocomposite polymers with two distinct polymer networks to impart improvements in material properties. Other useful property relationships including increases in mechanical integrity, greater diffusive transport, and larger water uptake were established in this research.

Finally, the LLC templating process was applied to solve performance problems associated with stimuli-sensitive polymer materials. Dramatic improvements in the response rate, dynamic range, and mechanical properties were achieved using LLCs and photopolymerization to control polymer nanostructure. This work has established fundamental tools that can be used to understand and control the evolution of polymer structure during the polymerization reaction in order to improve polymer properties. Ultimately, the enhanced properties generated by the nanostructured polymer network can be used to improve the functionality of polymers.


kinetics, lyotropic liquid crystal, nanostructure, photopolymerization, properties, structure


xvii, 222 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 212-222).


Copyright 2013 Bradley Steven Forney