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Derek Huang (Fed)

Chemical Engineer, NRC Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Interests:

Polyethylenes (PE) and polypropylenes (PP) account for the largest share of plastic waste products, which contribute to international problems of ocean pollution, litter, and strained landfills. In mechanical recycling streams, PE and PP are mixed, and when melted together, they form micro-separated domains. PE/PP blends crystallize in a cascading fashion; the resulting recycled plastic blends are brittle, with poor mechanical properties. Cascading crystallization is poorly understood, but it is critical to the final mechanical properties. We aim to develop a fundamental understanding of the process by which the mechanical properties become locked in. To this end, we employ the NIST rheo-Raman microscope, a hybrid instrument capable of simultaneous measurement of chemical and physical composition and rheology during the cooling from molten polymer to its solid form. Our goal is to use these measurements to improve the strength of recycled plastics and better understand the influence of composition, additives, melt processing, and crystallization kinetics on the final mechanical properties.

Research Areas:

  • Raman spectroscopy
  • Polymer rheology
  • Crystallization of polymer blends

Research Background:

I am a chemical engineer with a background in colloidal physics and theoretical rheology. My previous research focused on the combined influence of repulsive and attractive forces on the viscosity and nonequilibrium osmotic pressure in flowing colloidal suspensions, analyzed through the theoretical framework of active microrheology. I am currently a member of the Polymers Processing Group where I focus on the rheology and Raman spectroscopy of polymer blends.

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Created September 1, 2020, Updated June 30, 2022