Development of New Materials for Applications in Liquid Crystal Technologies and Biofuel Production Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Zafiropoulos, Nicholas A.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Chemistry
  • This work encompasses three distinct materials chemistries: solid support catalysts for biodiesel production, synthesis of molecular based liquid crystals for improved applications in liquid crystal display technologies, and mesoscopic behavior of high aspect ratio nanoscale metal-organic framework particles. The production of biodiesel from waste biomass by the traditional two-step acid/base sequence is a costly and inefficient process. Solid supported acid catalysts were fabricated to reduce the free fatty acid content in waste greases in a process not requiring intensive and costly neutralization and aqueous workups. A high free fatty acid to methyl ester conversion was obtained for a variety of diarylammonium salts that served as homogeneous acid catalysts. The diarylamine was functionalized with appropriate moieties to enable incorporation into mesoporous silicas MCM-48 and SBA-15 as well as a more hydrophobic porous organic polymer. The efficacy of these heterogeneous acid catalysts was tested with greases containing up to 40 wt free fatty acid and found to have greater than 98 percent conversions. When combined with solid base catalysts, we were able to produce biodiesel in 99 percent yield from a high free fatty-acid containing feedstock. Several 2,5-disubstituted oxadiazole based bent-core molecules were synthesized to explore new potential structures for biaxial nematic liquid crystals at room temperature. Structure-function behaviors dictated the thermal behaviors of these molecules measured using heat-stage facilitated optical microscopy and differential scanning calorimetry. Lower melting mesogens were judiciously chosen for exploration by sophisticated variable temperature 2H-NMR experiments. Lastly, Onsager predicted that anisotropic shapes could stabilize liquid crystalline behaviors. High aspect ratio metal-organic framework nanorods were synthesized and subsequently surface functionalized to minimize electrostatic and steric interparticle interactions. These particles were shown to self-assemble into nematic-like textures when subjected certain physical restraints on the macroscopic level. The ordered behavior was revealed through polarized luminescence studies dependent on the particles non-cubic crystalline space group.
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  • Lin, Wenbin
  • Open access

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