Annual Meeting 2018

The IMS Industrial Affiliates Program will hold our 2018 Annual Meeting on Thursday, June 7, 2018, in the Rome Ballroom at Rome Commons on the Storrs campus. Representatives from member companies and invited guests are encouraged to attend. The meeting will begin at 9:00 a.m.  The agenda for this year includes:

  • Presentations by two new faculty members on their research interests,
  • A student poster session including both the Polymer Program and the Material Science Department,
  • Previews of upcoming short courses
  • Tours of the new Innovation Partnership Building at the UConn Tech Park.

There is no charge for attendance but registration is required by May 25th 2018.

Registration has closed.  We look forward to welcoming partners and friends for the meeting.


9:00 am Welcome, Hatice Bodugoz-Senturk, Associate Director, IMS Industrial Affiliates Program

9:10 am Bryan Huey: “AFM:  The Present and the Future”

Atomic Force Microscopy is a ubiquitous tool for nanotechnology based on a fine probe scanned with nanoscale precision. For more than 30 years AFM has primarily been implemented to map the topography as well as local properties of materials. By far the most common application is measuring the roughness, general morphology, feature dimensions, any periodicities, and generally an accurate 3-dimensional representation of surfaces. Mechanical, magnetic, electrical, thermal, and optical properties can also be directly studied with more sophisticated AFM variations. At UConn and elsewhere, substantial developments advanced high speed imaging as well, either for high throughput environments or for investigating materials dynamics. In general, a broad range of specimens are compatible with AFM as well. In our lab alone over the past 5 years, we have studied polymers, advanced alloys, ceramics, semiconductors, functional films, solar cells, biological cells, tissue, pharmaceutical formulations, and individual molecules. This can be done in air, water, or other controlled environments.

However, nearly all AFM studies over the past 3 decades focused on surfaces, whether as fabricated/cast/deposited, cross-sectioned, or fractured. Now, as part of a new $1M partnership between UConn and the NSF, we are developing a next generation instrument for nanoscale tomography of materials properties. This CT-AFM (made in Connecticut…) is providing unprecedented insight into materials behavior throughout the thickness of an expanding range of specimens. Examples include 3-Dimensional maps of current networks in working solar cells, piezoelectric properties as a function of thickness for multilayer coatings, and ferroelectric domains and especially defect distributions throughout multifunctional thin films. Voxel dimensions are sub 10 nm3, and we recently even resolved individual superlattice layers that are only 16 unit cells thick. In the future, such novel insight into volumetric materials properties at the nanoscale is sure to advance fundamental and applied materials science and engineering as CT-AFM transforms the way we look at, and beneath, surfaces.

9:40 am Kelly Burke: “Cellular and Hemocompatibility Testing of Polymers”

Polymers designed to be implanted within the human body in a blood contacting environment must undergo biological testing to evaluate their safety and efficacy. In this talk, we will first describe some of the initial processes that occur upon exposure of a polymer to blood. Polymers designed to be implanted longer term in blood vessels must also be evaluated for how cells of the vessel wall interact with the material during healing process. This is important to maintain patent, functioning conduits. We will review surface design principles that have shown promise to improve blood compatibility of polymeric materials. Finally, we will extend this work to other cell compatibility activities pursued in our lab to showcase some of the biomaterial characterization capabilities available in the IMS.

10:10 am Break

10:35 am Linnaea Ostroff: “Observing Brain Substrates of Memory with 3D EM”

The average human brain contains about 86 billion neurons which are interconnected through about 100 trillion synapses.  Synapses come in many types, and can grow, change, and even be created or eliminated with experience, and it is in these changes that memories are encoded.  Synapses are very small (typically less than 500 nm in diameter) and therefore can only be visualized by electron microscopy.  The cellular environment is of course much larger, so three-dimensional analysis is required to fully understand synaptic changes.  This is accomplished through reconstructions of serial TEM images, which can produce volumes of hundreds of cubic microns at nanometer resolution.  Traditional TEM imaging reveals highly detailed cellular morphology, while immunolabeling techniques can add molecular information as well.  Our ability to map the distribution of molecules at the subcellular level is limited at present, however.  New approaches are needed to achieve sensitive, high-resolution, multiplexed localization of biological molecules and elemental mapping within single brain samples.  Technology developments of this kind will result in dramatic advances in our understanding of brain function, and of cell biology in general.

11:05 am Jasna Jankovic: “Advanced Characterization and Quantification of Electrodes Using Electron and X-ray Microscopy Techniques”

Performance and durability of electrodes in fuel cells, electrolyzers and batteries very much depend on the composition, microstructure and spatial distribution of all components in the electrodes. Understanding the electrode microstructure and component distribution at the beginning of life (BOL), as well as their change after failure of the devices – end of life (EOL), or after running at various operating conditions, is crucial for the further development of the electrodes and mitigation of failures. Conventional imaging techniques offer limited information and can often be misleading. Novel and advanced methods for spatial (3D) structural characterization and component quantification are being developed, enabled by the rapid advancement of the microscopy techniques and computational power, offering a new level of understanding of processes during operation and degradation.

This talk will give an overview of some of the advanced and novel material characterization and quantification methods available in Dr. Jankovic’s group. The talk will cover examples from fuel cell catalyst layers, but the same approaches can be applied for electrolyzers and batteries:

  • 3D imaging and quantification of catalyst powders and resulting catalyst layers on a nano-scale using an electron tomography (ET) approach that enables spatial distribution of all phases – carbon, Pt, ionomer and pores.
  • 3D multi-scale imaging correlatively utilizing electron tomography (ET), focused ion beam-scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM), and 3D X-ray microscopy (3D XRM), coupled with effective property simulation.
  • Applying a novel and practical (all-in-one) approach to visualize and quantify a number of catalyst layer parameters in BOL and end of life (EOL) samples, such as Pt loading, loss and distribution, ionomer loading and I/C ratio, layer porosity as well as oxygen evolution reaction (OER) agglomerate size, using transmission electron microscopy with energy dispersive spectroscopy (TEM-EDX).

These advanced characterization approaches, coupled with targeted experimental testing and mathematical modeling, are key for further understanding and improving the performance and durability of fuel cells, electrolyzers and batteries.

11:35 am Sina Shahbazmohamadi: “Correlative Workflow in the Characterization of TiN Coatings in Cardiac Rhythm Management Devices”

Abstract: Implantable medical devices such as pacemakers, defibrillators, and neurostimulators require electrochemically active conductive electrodes with high surface area and low impedance to transfer electrical charge from the device to human tissue. The microstructure of these coatings such as titanium nitride (TiN) or iridium oxide (IrO2) are of peak interest as it affects performance and any undue failure carries the risks associated with such failures. The evaluation of these coated components is challenging given their length scale and the many techniques available for coating characterization including electron microscopy, optical microscopy, IR spectroscopy, and X-ray tomography, among others. But a three dimensional and non-destructive evaluation method such as 3-D X-ray tomography presents a nearly ideal approach to evaluate these coatings. In short, entire components can be checked for coating irregularities just before product integration in a manufacturing setting. To validate the findings of the X-ray tomography for this application, FIB-SEM serial sectioning was used to probe distinct locations mapped from a high-resolution X-ray tomography by means of a correlative workflow.

12:00pm Luncheon

1:00pm Paul Nahass: “IMS Industrial Affiliates Program”

1:15pm Steven Suib: “Institute of Materials Science/Tech Park”

2:00pm Tours and Poster Session (IPB/Tech Park)