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Concordia grad student looks to extend the life of smartphone screens and batteries

Twinkal Patel is developing a polymer system with self-healing properties
September 17, 2019
Twinkal Patel: “We want to develop the next generation of lithium-ion battery technology.”
Concordia graduate student and researcher Twinkal Patel: “We want to develop the next generation of lithium-ion battery technology.”

Smartphones and other mobile technologies are embedded in much of modern-day society.

Two common — often annoying — reasons users need to replace their hand-held devices are damaged screens and faulty batteries. Twinkal Patel (BSc 17), a Master’s in Chemistry student in Concordia’s Faculty of Arts and Science, is working on a research project that could extend the life of both.

She hopes to develop a polymer system with self-healing properties that can be incorporated into lithium-ion batteries and touch screens.

There are so many things that can be done with polymers

How does this specific image relate to your research at Concordia?

Twinkal Patel: This image shows the self-healing properties of my designed polymer system. When there is a cut made on the polymer, over time the system re-establishes the broken bonds to heal the cut. My research goal is to synthesize a dynamic cross-linked network that is responsive to temperature and reduction in pH levels — achieving self-healing.

What is the hoped-for result of your project?

TP: I hope to have a polymer system that meets all the requirements of and can be usefully incorporated into touch screen and lithium-ion battery technologies, increasing their life span.

What impact could you see it having on people’s lives?

We hope it contributes to solving some challenges presently facing battery-life technology. We want to develop the next generation of lithium-ion battery technology as well as develop flexible, transparent and force-sensitive touch screens with self-healing properties.

What are some of the major challenges you face in your research?

TP: A major challenge is the optimization of the conditions that could lead to the best expected result for my self-healing polymer. But with much dedication and hard work, we can overcome these challenges.

What first inspired you to study this subject?

TP: In the beginning, I had no clue what I wanted to do after completing my undergraduate degree at Concordia. But during my CHEM 419 independent study project I got a chance to work in the field of polymer chemistry with self-healing abilities, and I absolutely loved it. There are so many things that can be done with polymers. My supervisor, Jung Kwon Oh, was also very encouraging and because of this I got inspired to study more in this field.

What advice would you give interested science, technology, engineering and mathematics students to get involved in this line of research?

TP: Volunteering in different labs will open doors for networking with other students and faculty, and also allow you to learn different things in the field. You should also try to take courses that are related to the polymer field to have a better understanding of it. There will be many challenges to overcome on this path, but you should always stay focused on your goals.

What do you like best about being at Concordia?

TP: One of the things I like best about Concordia is the friendly and culturally diverse atmosphere. I did my undergraduate studies here and absolutely loved the professors, who were always available to help students succeed. This greatly influenced my decision to continue my graduate studies at Concordia.

Are there any partners, agencies or other funding/support attached to your research?

TP: We are currently collaborating with researchers from different Concordia departments, such as the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering and Xiaolei Wang’s group. They have been a great help with the battery application.

We are also collaborating with Korea’s Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology and the Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada funds our research.

Find out more about
Concordia’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.



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