High-performance plastic

Nanoparticles create super-strong plastic that can conduct heat and electricity.

Dr. Frank Fisher of the Mechanical Engineering Department at Stevens Institute of Technology recently won The National Science Foundation’s most competitive peer accolade, the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award for his research, Fundamental Research Leveraging Nanoparticle-Induced Crystallization in Semicrystalline Polymer Nanocomposites. The CAREER program supports junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, a strong commitment to education, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.

"Dr. Fisher’s achievement of the prestigious and highly competitive NSF CAREER Award is validation by his peers of the quality of his research and his contributions to engineering education. We are confident that his future accomplishments will continue to enrich Stevens' commitment to nanotechnology, education and entrepreneurship."
George P. Korfiatis, Provost & University Vice President

“There is considerable interest in using nanoparticles to enhance the properties of polymer (plastic) materials”, describes Fisher. “These enhancements could be in the form of, for example, improved mechanical, electrical, thermal properties; such improvements could be useful for the adaptation of high performance plastics in a number of different applications.”

As part of the CAREER award Dr. Fisher will study the crystalline morphologies that naturally form, or can be deliberately formed, during the processing and manufacture of semicrystalline polymer nanocomposites, an important class of engineering polymer materials. “In semicrystalline polymers, not only are the properties of the plastic changed through the addition of nanoparticles”, explains Fisher, “but the crystallinity and crystalline morphology of the polymer can change as well. We’re particularly interested in seeing if we can develop a synergy between the effects of the nanoreinforcement and the changes in crystallinity of the semicrystalline polymer.” Such effects, describes Fisher, “will lead to a better understanding of how we can develop nanocomposite materials with vastly improved properties and performance.”

“This award is a reflection not only of Frank’s outstanding achievements in his research and education endeavors, but also the promise of even more significant success in the years ahead.”
Michael Bruno, Dean of the Schaefer School of Engineering & Science

As part of the CAREER award, the proposed research program is coupled to an educational initiative that will develop pedagogically-inspired, simulation-based learning modules for the undergraduate mechanical engineering curriculum. Since joining Stevens in 2004, Professor Fisher has received the 2006 Harvey N. Davis Distinguished Teaching Assistant Professor Award at Stevens, the 2009 Ferdinand P. Beer and E. Russell Johnston Jr. Outstanding New Educator Award from the Mechanics Division of the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE), and the 2009 Stevens Alumni Association Outstanding Teacher Award. He is also co-director of the Nanotechnology Graduate Program at Stevens.

“Frank’s achievement is clearly indicative of the extraordinary research that that is being carried out in the department and the impact that junior faculty members are having on the transformational growth of this department and of Stevens.”
Costas Chassapis, Director of the Mechanical Engineering Department