Published: March 30, 2022 By

Jaylene Martinez

Jaylene Martinez, PhD student in the Ding Research Group

Department of Mechanical Engineering PhD student Jaylene Martinez has won the Division of Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering (PMSE) Best Poster Award.

The award recognizes an outstanding poster presented by a student at the American Chemical Society National Meeting. Only six PMSE Best Poster Awards are given out each year. Winners receive a $200 prize.

“I feel very humbled and excited,” Martinez said. “Sometimes being so focused on research distracts you from recognizing your hard work and the wins that come with it.” 

Martinez’s poster detailed her membrane technology research, which can ensure more reliable water treatment filtration systems in the future. The poster was titled “Bonding of membranes by viscous polymers: Infiltration kinetics and its impact on mechanical integrity of the bonded polymer/membrane structure.”

Her work was chosen for the Best Poster Award based on her presentation of it during the PSME poster session. Finalists are identified and evaluated by a group of judges selected by the PMSE Executive Committee.

“I am happy and proud to hear that she won the award,” said Mechanical Engineering Professor and Martinez’s advisor Yifu Ding. “It is not too common for mechanical engineering graduate students to win such an award in the chemistry community.”

Following the impressive accomplishment, Martinez shared more details about her award-winning poster and research.

Describe your research and how it pertains to membrane technologies.

Tremendous progress has been made in developing novel chemistries and functional surfaces to achieve better permselective performances for membrane technologies. However, to integrate these high-value-added membranes into actual filtration devices or modules, controlled bonding between the membranes with the supporting structures – typically thermoplastic polymers – must be achieved. Failure to do so can result in manufacturing yield loss or product failure during application usage. As such, the limitation in membrane-to-component bonding has been identified as one of the top challenges for applying membrane technologies, especially in high-pressure applications. Among the different bonding methods, thermal welding uses infiltration of a viscous polymer into the membrane pores, driven by either capillary force or external pressure. My research focuses on filling kinetics of a viscous polymer melt through asymmetric porous membranes with varying degrees of hydrophilicity and pore size, provided by life science industry provider MilliporeSigma, over a range of different thermomechanical conditions including temperature and pressure. I also systematically investigate the resulting bonding strength between the polymer and membrane.

How will your work impact society?

My research is important for water treatment and virus filtration. Specifically, the implementation of filters into their operating systems to withstand operating conditions without failure or breakage. This would make current filtration systems scientifically reliable. 

What is the next step for this project?

Next step is looking at external pressure driven flow to bond thepolypropylene and polyethersulfone membranes and complete chapter three of my thesis. I plan to defend my thesis in July of this summer. 

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