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Structure-property-processing correlations in ice-templated materials

Applying the unique facilities of the Ice Research Laboratory at Dartmouth College we aim to gain insight into the fundamental science of the freeze-casting process. The objectives are to test the following hypotheses: (i) that ice crystal growth in polymer solutions can be carefully controlled so that scaffolds can be created that have highly aligned, unidirectional pore structures with additional microstructural features within the pores, (ii) that the geometry and surface structure of the ice crystal, and thus the ice-templated scaffold, can be controlled through materials composition, additives and freezing conditions, (iii) that pore size and geometry and pore surface structure can be modeled and predicted. Collating the empirical and theoretical results and plotting them in structure-property-processing charts will aid the systematic exploration of currently unpopulated "white spaces" in the material structure and property space, enabling an objective comparison of the performance of different scaffold compositions and designs, pointing out property profiles which are of particular promise.

The successful completion of the described work will provide knowledge and tools that guide a paradigm shift toward a more systematic approach for the design and manufacture of porous materials made by freeze casting by making the collected structure-property-processing correlations accessible to a broad audience. Major contributions of this work are expected to impact a multitude of application areas such as biomaterials and tissue scaffolds (e.g., nerve, bone), multifunctional materials for architectural and environmental engineering (e.g., infra-red reflecting, thermally insulating, electromagnetic shielding materials), green design (e.g., renewable packaging), and energy generation and storage (e.g., biobatteries, nuclear fuel pellets).

This project is funded by the National Science Foundation, Division of Civil, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Innovation and performed in collaboration with Professors Baker and Frost.

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