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Meet the Researcher - John Veracka

MEET THE RESEARCHER LIVE ON APRIL 28‚Äč
Breakout Room: 6

JV_HeadshotResearcher Name: John Veracka
Title of Research: High Tensile Strength, Room Temperature Self-Healing Polymer via Intermolecular Crosslinking Network for Applications in Aerospace and Soft Electronics
Division Representing: Chemistry
Institution: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Institution Location: Florida
Home State: Florida
District Number: 6
Advisor/Mentor: Foram Madiyar, Daewon Kim
Funding Source: Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) through the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR)

Research Experience:  
I have had experience in a handful of different research projects. I have worked on research projects relating to engineering, pharmacology, material science, and chemistry. My main project is to develop a flexible self-healing polymer for applications in soft electronics and aerospace. The self-healing material can heal in various environments (hot, cold, underwater, etc.) and intrinsically heal without the use of human intervention. I have also worked on projects involving the development of a functionalized and free-flowing carbon nanotube (CNT) solution to create a uniform heat conducting nanofilm. The CNT project was also used with an electrospray system, to create a highly dispersed liquid 'mist' to deposit the solution. Lastly, I have had experience in using medication, polymers, and stabilizers to create a pH sensitive drug delivery system to help patients suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBS). I am currently working with the Florida Department of Health as a COVID-19 Contact Tracer to help contain the spread of the virus in my community. I also currently work on Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's campus as a Resident Advisor, Chemistry Tutor, and Chemistry Laboratory Assistant. I have volunteered at Advent Health and Halifax Health in Daytona Beach gaining active clinical experience and also volunteered my time over the winter at a COVID-19 vaccination event, to assist in giving healthcare workers their vaccinations during this unprecedented and difficult time.

Presentation Experience: 
I have had experience in a handful of different research projects. I have worked on research projects relating to engineering, pharmacology, material science, and chemistry. My main project is to develop a flexible self-healing polymer for applications in soft electronics and aerospace. The self-healing material can heal in various environments (hot, cold, underwater, etc.) and intrinsically heal without the use of human intervention. I have also worked on projects involving the development of a functionalized and free-flowing carbon nanotube (CNT) solution to create a uniform heat conducting nanofilm. The CNT project was also used with an electrospray system, to create a highly dispersed liquid 'mist' to deposit the solution. Lastly, I have had experience in using medication, polymers, and stabilizers to create a pH sensitive drug delivery system to help patients suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBS). I am currently working with the Florida Department of Health as a COVID-19 Contact Tracer to help contain the spread of the virus in my community. I also currently work on Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's campus as a Resident Advisor, Chemistry Tutor, and Chemistry Laboratory Assistant. I have volunteered at Advent Health and Halifax Health in Daytona Beach gaining active clinical experience and also volunteered my time over the winter at a COVID-19 vaccination event, to assist in giving healthcare workers their vaccinations during this unprecedented and difficult time.

Significance of Research:       
Self-healing materials have gained significant attention due to their efficient ability to intrinsically or extrinsically heal without the use of external human intervention. Several mechanisms for repair within self-healing materials can be found, such as catalyst containing micro beads, healing from an external energy source such as ultraviolet light or heat, and supramolecular network bonding. However, many of these techniques remain challenged due to their lack of mechanical strength, faulty energy diffusion, and poor self-healing ability within limited time. In the given project, a material with efficient self-healing ability at room temperature and high mechanical strength is exemplified. The self-healing material utilizes a soft poly(oxy-1,4-butanediyl) (PTMEG) backbone that limits monomer clumping and microphase separation. Furthermore, the dual hydrogen bonding and high crosslinking monomer allows for excessive mechanical strength, while the weak single hydrogen bonding subunit creates mechanical strain diffusion by forming a diverse supramolecular network of temporary intermolecular bonds. Varying ratios of TDI and IP are tested in conjunction with 1000MW and 2900MW PTMEG backbones to exemplify varying degrees of self-healing and mechanically strength abilities for materials with applications in dielectric applicators, biosensing, and various self-healing electronics. The characterization of the polymer was accomplished using Fourier-transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) and Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC). The self-healing property was characterized by producing small slices in the material in both an aqueous and air environment at room temperature.    

Uniqueness of Research: 
Based on literature, a high tensile strength and efficient self-healing materials is rare to find. Thus, the proposed intrinsically healing material aims to maintain high tensile strength and efficient self-healing ability in various environments, and could be used for soft and flexible electronics, sensitive robotic dielectric applicators, biosensing, and self-healing spacesuits, space-gloves, and space-habitats.

 

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