The past century has witnessed the success of commodity polymers, which revolutionized our everyday life. Functional polymers, with well-controlled structure and unique physical/chemical properties, have emerged with the development of personal electronics and electrified power sources in the most recent decade. This presentation will focus on the development of functional polymers in flexible electronics and electrochemical energy storage applications. The first part of the presentation will discuss the fused hydrogen bonding based small molecules and polymer materials. These materials have latent hydrogen bonding during the synthesis and processing. The actual hydrogen bonding between adjacent molecules could be generated at solid state, resulting in new functionalities (partternability and enhanced charge mobility) due to the structural control of fused hydrogen bonding. The second part of the presentation will discuss the solid polymer electrolyte and polymer derived active materials in electrochemical energy storage devices. A rational phase diagram analysis was developed to analyze the composite electrolyte and achieve the optimized ionic conductivity, enabling the lithium metal based solid-state rechargeable batteries. Block-copolymer (BCP) derived templates were demonstrated to fabricate electrodes and catalysts for various electrochemical devices.
Yu Zhu is currently an associate professor in the Department of Polymer Science and deputy director of Akron Functional Materials Center at The University of Akron. He earned his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry at the University of Cologne, Germany in 2007. After his post-doctoral training at Rice University, Dr. Zhu joined the Department of Polymer Science at The University of Akron in 2012. His research interests focus on the functional polymers and nanomaterials. His research group is dedicated to advance the understanding of structure-property relationship of those materials, particularly in the area of energy storage and organic electronics. He is a recipient of ACS PRF Doctoral New Investigator Award, NSF CAREER Award and Journal of Materials Chemistry A Emerging Investigators.