Graduate Student Zhenpeng Li Wins Third Place in P&G Poster Competition

Zhenpeng Li in a suit and tie standing next to his chemical engineering poster presentation.Graduate student Zhenpeng Li won third place in the Procter & Gamble Poster Competition recently hosted by The University of Texas at Austin.

Li’s winning poster, entitled “Liquid Crystalline Polymer Multilayer Films for High Barrier Materials,” showcases his work in utilizing liquid crystalline polymers (LCPs) as an alternative to conventional polymers to boost productivity and lower expenses in barrier film products. Applications for these materials include transparent food packaging film and flexible electronic devices, such as solar cells and organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) used to create TV screens, computer monitors and mobile phone displays.

“Zhenpeng’s studies to improve the melt processing of LCPs offer a novel approach to overcome a longstanding roadblock in making thin, uniform films of LCPs by melt processing,” said Benny Freeman, Li’s collaborator and the Richard B. Curran Centennial Chair in Engineering. “His unique findings promise to vastly improve the use of LCPs in the many applications that require thin films.”

Li’s research is supervised by Associate Professor Chris Ellison in the Lab for Nanostructured Polymeric Materials.  It’s also supported by the Center for Layered Polymer Systems, a NSF Science and Technology Center based at Case Western Reserve University.  Collaborators on the project include McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering professors Don Paul and Benny Freeman, and Eric Baer from Case Western.

“LCPs are very attractive candidates for high performance packaging membranes due to their extraordinary gas/water barrier properties, mechanical strength and outstanding chemical resistance,” said Zhenpeng Li. “Incorporation of LCPs into multilayer films with individual LCP layer thickness as thin as several hundred nanometers is one of the most promising configurations for meeting application needs. A very thin active LCP layer also compensates for their expense compared to conventional polymers, therefore reducing the price of barrier film products.”



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