Home / Kornfield Lab Members / Andy Ylitalo
When you open a can of pop, dissolved carbon dioxide immediately fizzes into millions of bubbles. Replace pop with polymer, increase pressure to a few MPa, and cross-link to solidify, and you have one of the myriad plastic foams used in consumer products like cushions and building insulation. I am designing a high-pressure microfluidic flow cell to observe this initial "fizzing" (bubble nucleation and growth) of carbon dioxide during the foaming of polymeric liquids and working with theorists to model the foaming process. The techniques I use are optical microscopy and small-angle X-ray scattering for in situ characterization of bubbles and infrared imaging to track chemical kinetics. This research will guide development of polyurethane insulating foams with unprecedented thermal conductivity to reduce energy consumption in buildings and refrigeration.