Scholarly Works, Macromolecules Innovation Institute (MII)

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  • Operando characterization and regulation of metal dissolution and redeposition dynamics near battery electrode surface
    Zhang, Yuxin; Hu, Anyang; Xia, Dawei; Hwang, Sooyeon; Sainio, Sami; Nordlund, Dennis; Michel, F. Marc; Moore, Robert B.; Li, Luxi; Lin, Feng (Nature Portfolio, 2023-07)
    Mn dissolution has been a long-standing, ubiquitous issue that negatively impacts the performance of Mn-based battery materials. Mn dissolution involves complex chemical and structural transformations at the electrode–electrolyte interface. The continuously evolving electrode–electrolyte interface has posed great challenges for characterizing the dynamic interfacial process and quantitatively establishing the correlation with battery performance. In this study, we visualize and quantify the temporally and spatially resolved Mn dissolution/redeposition (D/R) dynamics of electrochemically operating Mn-containing cathodes. The particle-level and electrode-level analyses reveal that the D/R dynamics is associated with distinct interfacial degradation mechanisms at different states of charge. Our results statistically differentiate the contributions of surface reconstruction and Jahn–Teller distortion to the Mn dissolution at different operating voltages. Introducing sulfonated polymers (Nafion) into composite electrodes can modulate the D/R dynamics by trapping the dissolved Mn species and rapidly establishing local Mn D/R equilibrium. This work represents an inaugural effort to pinpoint the chemical and structural transformations responsible for Mn dissolution via an operando synchrotron study and develops an effective method to regulate Mn interfacial dynamics for improving battery performance.
  • Uncorrelated Lithium-Ion Hopping in a Dynamic Solvent-Anion Network
    Yu, Deyang; Troya, Diego; Korovich, Andrew G.; Bostwick, Joshua E.; Colby, Ralph H.; Madsen, Louis A. (American Chemical Society, 2023-03)
    Lithium batteries rely crucially on fast charge and mass transport of Li+ in the electrolyte. For liquid and polymer electrolytes with added lithium salts, Li+ couples to the counter-anion to form ionic clusters that produce inefficient Li+ transport and lead to Li dendrite formation. Quantification of Li+ transport in glycerol-salt electrolytes via NMR experiments and MD simulations reveals a surprising Li+-hopping mechanism. The Li+ transference number, measured by ion-specific electrophoretic NMR, can reach 0.7, and Li+ diffusion does not correlate with nearby ion motions, even at high salt concentration. Glycerol's high density of hydroxyl groups increases ion dissociation and slows anion diffusion, while the close proximity of hydroxyls and anions lowers local energy barriers, facilitating Li+ hopping. This system represents a bridge between liquid and inorganic solid electrolytes, thus motivating new molecular designs for liquid and polymer electrolytes to enable the uncorrelated Li+-hopping transport needed for fast-charging and all-solid-state batteries.
  • Enzyme-Triggered Chemodynamic Therapy via a Peptide-H2S Donor Conjugate with Complexed Fe2+
    Zhu, Yumeng; Archer, William R.; Morales, Katlyn F.; Schulz, Michael D.; Wang, Yin; Matson, John B. (Wiley-V C H Verlag, 2023-04)
    Inducing high levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) inside tumor cells is a cancer therapy method termed chemodynamic therapy (CDT). Relying on delivery of Fenton reaction promoters such as Fe2+, CDT takes advantage of overproduced ROS in the tumor microenvironment. We developed a peptide-H2S donor conjugate, complexed with Fe2+, termed AAN-PTC-Fe2+. The AAN tripeptide was specifically cleaved by legumain, an enzyme overexpressed in glioma cells, to release carbonyl sulfide (COS). Hydrolysis of COS by carbonic anhydrase formed H2S, an inhibitor of catalase, an enzyme that detoxifies H2O2. Fe2+ and H2S together increased intracellular ROS levels and decreased viability in C6 glioma cells compared with controls lacking either Fe2+, the AAN sequence, or the ability to generate H2S. AAN-PTC-Fe2+ performed better than temezolimide while exhibiting no cytotoxicity toward H9C2 cardiomyocytes. This study provides an H2S-amplified, enzyme-responsive platform for synergistic cancer treatment.
  • Supramolecular Peptide Nanostructures Regulate Catalytic Efficiency and Selectivity
    Li, Zhao; Joshi, Soumil Y.; Wang, Yin; Deshmukh, Sanket A.; Matson, John B. (Wiley-V C H, 2023-05)
    We report three constitutionally isomeric tetrapeptides, each comprising one glutamic acid (E) residue, one histidine (H) residue, and two lysine (K-S) residues functionalized with side-chain hydrophobic S-aroylthiooxime (SATO) groups. Depending on the order of amino acids, these amphiphilic peptides self-assembled in aqueous solution into different nanostructures:nanoribbons, a mixture of nanotoroids and nanoribbons, or nanocoils. Each nanostructure catalyzed hydrolysis of a model substrate, with the nanocoils exhibiting the greatest rate enhancement and the highest enzymatic efficiency. Coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations, analyzed with unsupervised machine learning, revealed clusters of H residues in hydrophobic pockets along the outer edge of the nanocoils, providing insight for the observed catalytic rate enhancement. Finally, all three supramolecular nanostructures catalyzed hydrolysis of the l-substrate only when a pair of enantiomeric Boc-l/d-Phe-ONp substrates were tested. This study highlights how subtle molecular-level changes can influence supramolecular nanostructures, and ultimately affect catalytic efficiency.
  • Facile Implementation of Antimicrobial Coatings through Adhesive Films (Wraps) Demonstrated with Cuprous Oxide Coatings
    Behzadinasab, Saeed; Williams, Myra D.; Falkinham, Joseph O.; Ducker, William A. (MDPI, 2023-05-17)
    Antimicrobial coatings have a finite lifetime because of wear, depletion of the active ingredient, or surface contamination that produces a barrier between the pathogen and the active ingredient. The limited lifetime means that facile replacement is important. Here, we describe a generic method for rapidly applying and reapplying antimicrobial coatings to common-touch surfaces. The method is to deposit an antimicrobial coating on a generic adhesive film (wrap), and then to attach that modified wrap to the common-touch surface. In this scenario, the adhesion of the wrap and antimicrobial efficacy are separated and can be optimized independently. We demonstrate the fabrication of two antimicrobial wraps, both using cuprous oxide (Cu2O) as the active ingredient. The first uses polyurethane (PU) as the polymeric binder and the second uses polydopamine (PDA). Our antimicrobial PU/Cu2O and PDA/Cu2O wraps, respectively, kill >99.98% and >99.82% of the human pathogen, P. aeruginosa, in only 10 min, and each of them kill >99.99% of the bacterium in 20 min. These antimicrobial wraps can be removed and replaced on the same object in <1 min with no tools. Wraps are already frequently used by consumers to coat drawers or cars for aesthetic or protective purposes.
  • Fluorescent detection of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) through the formation of pyrene excimers enhances H2S quantification in biochemical systems
    Pose, Manuela; Dillon, Kearsley M.; Denicola, Ana; Alvarez, Beatriz; Matson, John B.; Moeller, Matias N.; Cuevasanta, Ernesto (Elsevier, 2022-10)
    Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is produced endogenously by several enzymatic pathways and modulates physiological functions in mammals. Quantification of H2S in biochemical systems re-mains challenging because of the presence of interferents with similar reactivity, particularly thiols. Herein, we present a new quantification method based on the formation of pyrene exci-mers in solution. We synthesized the probe 2-(maleimido)ethyl 4-pyrenylbutanoate (MEPB) and determined that MEPB reacted with H2S in a two-step reaction to yield the thioether-linked dimer (MEPB)2S, which formed excimers upon excita-tion, with a broad peak of fluorescence emission centered at 480 nm. In contrast, we found that the products formed with thiols showed peaks at 378 and 398 nm. The difference in emission between the products prevented the interference. Furthermore, we showed that the excimer fluorescence signal yielded a linear response to H2S, with a limit of detection of 54 nM in a fluorometer. Our quantification method with MEPB was successfully applied to follow the reaction of H2S with glutathione disulfide and to quantify the production of H2S from cysteine by Escherichia coli. In conclusion, this method represents an addition to the toolkit of biochemists to quantify H2S specifically and sensitively in biochemical systems.
  • Terminology for chain polymerization (IUPAC Recommendations 2021)
    Fellows, Christopher M.; Jones, Richard G.; Keddie, Daniel J.; Luscombe, Christine K.; Matson, John B.; Matyjaszewski, Krzysztof; Merna, Jan; Moad, Graeme; Nakano, Tamaki; Penczek, Stanislaw; Russell, Gregory T.; Topham, Paul D. (Walter De Gruyter, 2022-09)
    Chain polymerizations are defined as chain reactions where the propagation steps occur by reaction between monomer(s) and active site(s) on the polymer chains with regeneration of the active site(s) at each step. Many forms of chain polymerization can be distinguished according to the mechanism of the propagation step (e.g., cyclopolymerization - when rings are formed, condensative chain polymerization - when propagation is a condensation reaction, group-transfer polymerization, polyinsertion, ring-opening polymerization - when rings are opened), whether they involve a termination step or not (e.g., living polymerization - when termination is absent, reversible-deactivation polymerization), whether a transfer step is involved (e.g., degenerative-transfer polymerization), and the type of chain carrier or active site (e.g., radical, ion, electrophile, nucleophile, coordination complex). The objective of this document is to provide a language for describing chain polymerizations that is both readily understandable and self-consistent, and which covers recent developments in this rapidly evolving field.
  • Customized blends of polypropylene for extrusion based additive manufacturing
    Das, Arit; Shanmugham, Nishanth; Bortner, Michael J. (Wiley, 2022-11)
    Filament-based material extrusion (MatEx) additive manufacturing has garnered great interest due to its simplicity, customizability, and cost-effectiveness. However, MatEx of semicrystalline polymers is still largely relegated to prototyping applications. Major issues involving volumetric shrinkage and warpage of the printed parts must be addressed in order to employ them for printing functional parts. Moreover, the crystallization behavior and rheology of the polymer are dependent on the MatEx processing conditions. In the current work, the printability of blends of isotactic polypropylene with a soft, low crystallinity propylene based homopolymer is evaluated. Addition of the homopolymer resulted in an increase in the crystallization window of the blends by similar to 6 degrees C that had a profound impact on the interlayer adhesion and residual stress state. The shear-dependent melt flow behavior inside the printing nozzle as well as the interlayer chain diffusion and interlayer welding on the print bed were investigated. Rheological characterizations also indicate sufficient dispersion and miscibility of the homopolymer in the neat polypropylene matrix. The incorporation of the homopolymer as an additive significantly improved the dimensional accuracy of the printed parts through better dissipation of the entrapped residual stresses during MatEx. Moreover, the degree of mechanical anisotropy of the parts was significantly lower than that obtained using many 3D printable grade polymers. The findings from this study can be leveraged in toolpath planning, process parameter optimization, and new feedstock development, highlighting current limitations as well as providing valuable insights into necessary processing modifications in order to enable MatEx of next generation semicrystalline polymers.
  • Multi-axis alignment of Rod-like cellulose nanocrystals in drying droplets
    Pritchard, Cailean Q.; Navarro, Fernando; Roman, Maren; Bortner, Michael J. (Elsevier, 2021-12)
    Hypothesis: Radial capillary flow in evaporating droplets carry suspended nanoparticles to its periphery where they are deposited and form a coffee-ring. Rod-like nanoparticles seeking to minimize their capillary energy will align with their long-axis parallel to the contact line. Particles exhibiting electrostatic repulsion, such as cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs), establish a competition between capillary flow-induced impingement against a growing coffee-ring and entropic minimization leading to enhanced particle mobility. Therefore, balancing these effects by manipulating the local particle concentration in drying droplets should result in deposition with a controlled orientation of CNCs. Experiments: The dynamic local order in aqueous suspensions of CNCs in evaporating sessile droplets was investigated through time-resolved polarized light microscopy. The spatial distribution of alignment in deposited CNCs was explored as a function of nanoparticle concentration, droplet volume, initial degree of anisotropy, and substrate hydrophobicity. Computational analysis of the rotational Péclet number during evaporation was also investigated to evaluate any effects of shear-induced alignment. Findings: Multiple modes of orientation were identified suggesting local control over CNC orientation and subsequent properties can be attained via droplet-based patterning methods. Specifically, high local particle concentrations led to tangential alignment and lower local particle concentrations resulted in new evidence for radial alignment near the center of dried droplets.
  • Molecular Weight Distribution of Branched Polymers: Comparison between Monte Carlo Simulation and Flory-Stockmayer Theory
    Wen, Chengyuan; Odle, Roy; Cheng, Shengfeng (MDPI, 2023-04-04)
    It is challenging to predict the molecular weight distribution (MWD) for a polymer with a branched architecture, though such information will significantly benefit the design and development of branched polymers with desired properties and functions. A Monte Carlo (MC) simulation method based on the Gillespie algorithm is developed to quickly compute the MWD of branched polymers formed through step-growth polymerization, with a branched polyetherimide from two backbone monomers (4,4′-bisphenol A dianhydride and m-phenylenediamine), a chain terminator (phthalic anhydride), and a branching agent (tris[4-(4-aminophenoxy)phenyl] ethane) as an example. This polymerization involves four reactions that can be all reduced to a condensation reaction between an amine group and a carboxylic anhydride group. A comparison between the MC simulation results and the predictions of the Flory-Stockmayer theory on MWD shows that the rates of the reactions are determined by the concentrations of the functional groups on the monomers involved in each reaction. It further shows that the Flory-Stockmayer theory predicts MWD well for systems below the gel point but starts to fail for systems around or above the gel point. However, for all the systems, the MC method can be used to reliably predict MWD no matter if they are below or above the gel point. Even for a macroscopic system, a converging distribution can be quickly obtained through MC simulations on a system of only a few hundred to a few thousand monomers that have the same molar ratios as in the macroscopic system.
  • Encapsulation of PI3K Inhibitor LY294002 within Polymer Nanoparticles Using Ion Pairing Flash Nanoprecipitation
    Fergusson, Austin D.; Zhang, Rui; Riffle, Judy S.; Davis, Richey M. (MDPI, 2023-04-06)
    Flash nanoprecipitation (FNP) is a turbulent mixing process capable of reproducibly producing polymer nanoparticles loaded with active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). The nanoparticles produced with this method consist of a hydrophobic core surrounded by a hydrophilic corona. FNP produces nanoparticles with very high loading levels of nonionic hydrophobic APIs. However, hydrophobic compounds with ionizable groups are not as efficiently incorporated. To overcome this, ion pairing agents (IPs) can be incorporated into the FNP formulation to produce highly hydrophobic drug salts that efficiently precipitate during mixing. We demonstrate the encapsulation of the PI3K inhibitor, LY294002, within poly(ethylene glycol)-b-poly(D,L lactic acid) nanoparticles. We investigated how incorporating two hydrophobic IPs (palmitic acid (PA) and hexadecylphosphonic acid (HDPA)) during the FNP process affected the LY294002 loading and size of the resulting nanoparticles. The effect of organic solvent choice on the synthesis process was also examined. While the presence of either hydrophobic IP effectively increased the encapsulation of LY294002 during FNP, HDPA resulted in well-defined colloidally stable particles, while the PA resulted in ill-defined aggregates. The incorporation of hydrophobic IPs with FNP opens the door for the intravenous administration of APIs that were previously deemed unusable due to their hydrophobic nature.
  • N-thiocarboxyanhydrides, amino acid-derived enzyme-activated H2S donors, enhance sperm mitochondrial activity in presence and absence of oxidative stress
    Pintus, Eliana; Chinn, Abigail F.; Kadlec, Martin; García-Vázquez, Francisco A.; Novy, Pavel; Matson, John B.; Ros-Santaella, José L. (2023-02-16)
    Background Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) donors are crucial tools not only for understanding the role of H2S in cellular function but also as promising therapeutic agents for oxidative stress-related diseases. This study aimed to explore the effect of amino acid-derived N-thiocarboxyanhydrides (NTAs), which release physiological H2S levels in the presence of carbonic anhydrase, on porcine sperm function during short-term incubation with and without induced oxidative stress. For this purpose, we employed two H2S-releasing NTAs with release half-lives (t1/2) in the range of hours that derived from the amino acids glycine (Gly-NTA) or leucine (Leu-NTA). Because carbonic anhydrase is crucial for H2S release from NTAs, we first measured the activity of this enzyme in the porcine ejaculate. Then, we tested the effect of Gly- and Leu-NTAs at 10 and 1 nM on sperm mitochondrial activity, plasma membrane integrity, acrosomal status, motility, motile subpopulations, and redox balance during short-term incubation at 38 °C with and without a reactive oxygen species (ROS)-generating system. Results Our results show that carbonic anhydrase is found both in spermatozoa and seminal plasma, with activity notably higher in the latter. Both Gly- and Leu-NTAs did not exert any noxious effects, but they enhanced sperm mitochondrial activity in the presence and absence of oxidative stress. Moreover, NTAs (except for Leu-NTA 10 nM) tended to preserve the sperm redox balance against the injuries provoked by oxidative stress, which provide further support to the antioxidant effect of H2S on sperm function. Both compounds also increased progressive motility over short-term incubation, which may translate into prolonged sperm survival. Conclusions The presence of carbonic anhydrase activity in mammalian spermatozoa makes NTAs promising molecules to investigate the role of H2S in sperm biology. For the first time, beneficial effects of NTAs on mitochondrial activity have been found in mammalian cells in the presence and absence of oxidative stress. NTAs are interesting compounds to investigate the role of H2S in sperm mitochondria-dependent events and to develop H2S-related therapeutic protocols against oxidative stress in assisted reproductive technologies.
  • Effects of Chitosan Molecular Weight and Degree of Deacetylation on Chitosan-Cellulose Nanocrystal Complexes and Their Formation
    Wang, Hezhong; Roman, Maren (MDPI, 2023-01-31)
    This study was conducted to determine the effects of chitosan molecular weight and degree of deacetylation (DD) on chitosan–cellulose nanocrystal (CNC) polyelectrolyte–macroion complexes (PMCs) and their formation. Chitosan samples with three different molecular weights (81, 3 · 103, 6 · 103 kDa) and four different DDs (77, 80, 85, 89%) were used. The effects on PMC formation were determined by turbidimetric titration. An effect of the molecular weight of chitosan was not observed in turbidimetric titrations. Turbidity levels were higher for CNCs with lower sulfate group density and larger hydrodynamic diameter than for CNCs with higher sulfate group density and smaller hydrodynamic diameter. Conversely, turbidity levels were higher for chitosans with higher DD (higher charge density) than for chitosans with lower DD (lower charge density). PMC particles from chitosans with different molecular weights were characterized by scanning electron microscopy, laser Doppler electrophoresis, and dynamic light scattering. PMCs from high-molecular-weight chitosan were more spherical and those from medium-molecular-weight chitosan had a slightly larger hydrodynamic diameter than PMCs from the respective other two chitosans. The molecular weight of the chitosan was concluded to have no effect on the formation of chitosan–CNC PMC particles and only a minor effect on the shape and size of the particles. The higher turbidity levels for CNCs with lower sulfate group density and larger hydrodynamic diameter and for chitosans with higher DD were attributed to a larger number of CNCs being required for charge compensation.
  • Select figures from Peel Tests for Quantifying Adhesion and Toughness: A Review
    Bartlett, Michael D.; Case, Scott W.; Kinloch, Anthony J.; Dillard, David A. (2023-02)
    Images licensed CC BY-SA and scheduled to appear in the journal Progress in Materials Science.
  • Electrospun Scaffolds Functionalized with a Hydrogen Sulfide Donor Stimulate Angiogenesis
    Yao, Tianyu; van Nunen, Teun; Rivero, Rebeca; Powell, Chadwick; Carrazzone, Ryan; Kessels, Lilian; Wieringa, Paul Andrew; Hafeez, Shahzad; Wolfs, Tim G. A. M.; Moroni, Lorenzo; Matson, John B.; Baker, Matthew B. (American Chemical Society, 2022-06-17)
    Tissue-engineered constructs are currently limited by the lack of vascularization necessary for the survival and integration of implanted tissues. Hydrogen sulfide (H2S), an endogenous signaling gas (gasotransmitter), has been recently reported as a promising alternative to growth factors to mediate and promote angiogenesis in low concentrations. Yet, sustained delivery of H2S remains a challenge. Herein, we have developed angiogenic scaffolds by covalent attachment of an H2S donor to a polycaprolactone (PCL) electrospun scaffold. These scaffolds were engineered to include azide functional groups (on 1, 5, or 10% of the PCL end groups) and were modified using a straightforward click reaction with an alkyne-functionalized N-thiocarboxyanhydride (alkynyl-NTA). This created H2S-releasing scaffolds that rely on NTA ring-opening in water followed by conversion of released carbonyl sulfide into H2S. These functionalized scaffolds showed dose-dependent release of H2S based on the amount of NTA functionality within the scaffold. The NTA-functionalized fibrous scaffolds supported human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVEC) proliferation, formed more confluent endothelial monolayers, and facilitated the formation of tight cell-cell junctions to a greater extent than unfunctionalized scaffolds. Covalent conjugation of H2S donors to scaffolds not only promotes HUVEC proliferation in vitro, but also increases neovascularization in ovo, as observed in the chick chorioallantoic membrane assay. NTA-functionalized scaffolds provide localized control over vascularization through the sustained delivery of a powerful endogenous angiogenic agent, which should be further explored to promote angiogenesis in tissue engineering.
  • Modeling Solution Drying by Moving a Liquid-Vapor Interface: Method and Applications
    Tang, Yanfei; McLaughlan, John E.; Grest, Gary S.; Cheng, Shengfeng (MDPI, 2022-09-23)
    A method of simulating the drying process of a soft matter solution with an implicit solvent model by moving the liquid-vapor interface is applied to various solution films and droplets. For a solution of a polymer and nanoparticles, we observe “polymer-on-top” stratification, similar to that found previously with an explicit solvent model. Furthermore, “polymer-on-top” is found even when the nanoparticle size is smaller than the radius of gyration of the polymer chains. For a suspension droplet of a bidisperse mixture of nanoparticles, we show that core-shell clusters of nanoparticles can be obtained via the “small-on-outside” stratification mechanism at fast evaporation rates. “Large-on-outside” stratification and uniform particle distribution are also observed when the evaporation rate is reduced. Polymeric particles with various morphologies, including Janus spheres, core-shell particles, and patchy particles, are produced from drying droplets of polymer solutions by combining fast evaporation with a controlled interaction between the polymers and the liquid-vapor interface. Our results validate the applicability of the moving interface method to a wide range of drying systems. The limitations of the method are pointed out and cautions are provided to potential practitioners on cases where the method might fail.
  • Designing synergistic crystallization inhibitors: Bile salt derivatives of cellulose with enhanced hydrophilicity
    Novo, Diana C.; Gao, Chengzhe; Qi, Qingqing; Mosquera-Giraldo, Laura I.; Spiering, Glenn A.; Moore, Robert B.; Taylor, Lynne S.; Edgar, Kevin J. (Elsevier, 2022-09-15)
    Crystallization inhibitors in amorphous solid dispersions (ASD) enable metastable supersaturated drug solutions that persist for a physiologically relevant time. Olefin cross-metathesis (CM) has successfully provided multifunctional cellulose-based derivatives as candidate ASD matrix polymers. In proof of concept studies, we prepared hydrophobic bile salt/cellulose adducts by CM with naturally occurring bile salts. We hypothesized that increased hydrophilicity would enhance the ability of these conjugates to maximize bioactive supersaturation. Their selective preparation presents a significant synthetic challenge, given polysaccharide reactivity and polysaccharide and bile salt complexity. We prepared such derivatives using a more hydrophilic hydroxypropyl cellulose (HPC) backbone, employing a pent-4-enyl tether (Pen) for appending bile acids. We probed structure-property relationships by varying the nature and degree of substitution of the bile acid substituent (lithocholic or deoxycholic acid). These conjugates are indeed synergistic inhibitors, as demonstrated with the fast-crystallizing prostate cancer drug, enzalutamide. The lithocholic acid methyl ester derivative, AcrMLC-PenHHPCPen (0.64), increased induction time 68 fold vs. drug alone.
  • Block Copolymer-Derived Porous Carbon Fibers Enable High MnO2 Loading and Fast Charging in Aqueous Zinc-Ion Battery
    Guo, Dong; Zhao, Wenqi; Pan, Fuping; Liu, Guoliang (Wiley-V C H Verlag, 2022-04)
    Rechargeable aqueous Zn MnO2 batteries are promising for stationary energy storage because of their high energy density, safety, environmental benignity, and low cost. Conventional gravel MnO2 cathodes have low electrical conductivity, slow ion (de-)insertion, and poor cycle stability, resulting in poor recharging performance and severe capacity fading. To improve the rechargeability of MnO2, strategies have been devised such as depositing micrometer-thick MnO2 on carbon cloth and blending nanostructured MnO2 with additives and binders. The low electrical conductivity of binders and sluggish ion (de)insertion in micrometer-thick MnO2, however, still limit the fastcharging performance. Herein, we have prepared porous carbon fiber (PCF) supported MnO2 cathodes (PCF@MnO2), comprised of nanometer-thick MnO2 uniformly deposited on electrospun block copolymer-derived PCF that have abundant uniform mesopores. The high electrical conductivity of PCF, fast electrochemical reactions in nanometer-thick MnO2, and fast ion transport through porous nonwoven fibers contribute to a high rate capability at high loadings. PCF@MnO2, at a MnO2 loading of 59.1 wt%, achieves a MnO2-based specific capacity of 326 and 184 mAhg(-1) at a current density of 0.1 and 1.0 Ag-1, respectively. Our approach of block copolymer-based PCF as a support for zinc-ion cathode inspires future designs of fastcharging electrodes with other active materials.
  • Octopus-inspired adhesive skins for intelligent and rapidly switchable underwater adhesion
    Frey, Sean T.; Tahidul Haque, A.B.M.; Tutika, Ravi; Krotz, Elizabeth V.; Lee, Chanhong; Haverkamp, Cole B.; Markvicka, Eric J.; Bartlett, Michael D. (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2022-07-13)
    The octopus couples controllable adhesives with intricately embedded sensing, processing, and control to manipulate underwater objects. Current synthetic adhesive–based manipulators are typically manually operated without sensing or control and can be slow to activate and release adhesion, which limits system-level manipulation. Here, we couple switchable, octopus-inspired adhesives with embedded sensing, processing, and control for robust underwater manipulation. Adhesion strength is switched over 450× from the ON to OFF state in <50 ms over many cycles with an actively controlled membrane. Systematic design of adhesive geometry enables adherence to nonideal surfaces with low preload and independent control of adhesive strength and adhesive toughness for strong and reliable attachment and easy release. Our bio-inspired nervous system detects objects and autonomously triggers the switchable adhesives. This is implemented into a wearable glove where an array of adhesives and sensors creates a biomimetic adhesive skin to manipulate diverse underwater objects.
  • Digestibility Kinetics of Polyhydroxyalkanoate and Poly(butylene succinate-co-adipate) after In Vitro Fermentation in Rumen Fluid
    Galyon, Hailey; Vibostok, Samuel; Duncan, Jane; Ferreira, Gonzalo; Whittington, Abby; Havens, Kirk; McDevitt, Jason; Cockrum, Rebecca (MDPI, 2022-05-21)
    Using polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) materials for ruminal boluses could allow for longer sustained release of drugs and hormones that would reduce administration time and unneeded animal discomfort caused by continuous administration. The objective of this study was to determine ruminal degradability and kinetics of biodegradable polymers and blends. A proprietary PHA-based polymer, poly(butylene succinate-co-adipate) (PBSA), PBSA:PHA melt blends, and forage controls were incubated in rumen fluid for up to 240 h. Mass loss was measured after each incubation time, and digestion kinetic parameters were estimated. Thermogravimetric, differential scanning calorimetry, and intrinsic viscosity analyses were conducted on incubated samples. Generally, across treatments, mass loss was significant by 96 h with a minimum increase of 0.25% compared to 0 h but did not change thereafter. Degradation kinetics demonstrated that polymer treatments were still in the exponential degradation phase at 240 h with a maximum disappearance rate of 0.0031 %/h. Melting temperature increased, onset thermal degradation temperature decreased, and intrinsic viscosity decreased with incubation time, indicating structural changes to the polymers. Based on these preliminary findings, the first stage of degradation occurs within 24 h and PHA degrades slowly. However, further ruminal degradation studies of biodegradable polymers are warranted to elucidate maximum degradation and its characteristics.