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Research in the Martin lab focuses on the fabrication, structure, properties, and applications of advanced materials – with a particular focus on energy efficient separations. Our work lies at the interface of chemistry, materials science, and chemical engineering. Students in my group are exposed to diverse topics including polymer and nanocomposite structure and properties, porous materials, self-assembly, mass transport, synthesis, and surface science.

Materials for Energy Efficient Separations

Membranes have significant potential advantages for many important separation processes due to their low energy use and scalability.  We are interested in using novel polymeric and polymer nanocomposite materials to create new membranes.  These include membranes for gas phase separations (e.g. carbon capture) and membranes for liquid phase separations (e.g. water desalination.)

MOF structure and SEM image

Novel Sorbents and Technologies for Carbon Capture and Agricultural Flue Gas Separations: We are collaborating with research groups in mechanical engineering and chemistry, as well as with several local companies, to develop new materials and processes for capturing carbon dioxide.  These materials include structure porous materials (such as MOFs), functional polymers, and functionalized mesoporous materials, and are targeting carbon capture from point sources (e.g. flue gas from coal of natural gas fired power plants) as well as direct air capture (DAC) of CO2 from the atmosphere. We are also collaborating with a local company on novel processes for the capture of impurities, such as ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, from agricultural flue gas.

Image of functionalized forward osmosis membrane and thin film nanocomposite membrane.

Nanocomposite Membranes for Sustainable Water Production: We are currently examining the effects of nanoparticle size, shape, and surface functionality on the effect transport at the interface between the nanoparticle filler and an interfacially polymerized polyamide matrix.  We have previously demonstrated the inclusion of functionalized carbon nanotubes that increase water flux and decrease biofouling, and are now exploring the use of new, sustainable nanomaterials (i.e. cellulose nanocrystals) and multifunctional nanomaterials (i.e. metal-organic frameworks – MOFs) as well as novel functional polymers for the production of desalination and ion transport membranes. We are also collaborating with other groups to study the performance of these membranes for forward osmosis (FO) wastewater treatment applications.

Transport mechanisms in thin film nanocomposite membranes