PhD students awarded for anti-icing and nonwoven-materials research

Rukmava Chatterjee and Kailin Chen, both PhD candidates in MIE, recently received awards for their research.

Rukmava Chatterjee and Kailin Chen, both PhD candidates in MIE, recently received awards for their research.

Chatterjee has a promising scholarly record and a plethora of awards. In early 2020, he won the Award for Graduate Research from UIC’s Graduate College, and he ended the year on high note with a Provost’s Graduate Research Award. The latter honor supports multidisciplinary scholarship and provides a way for students early in their studies to develop new research directions for their PhD dissertations or capstone projects. The annual seed-funding competition also helps students to develop stronger applications for funding from external sources.

Under the direction of Assistant Professor Sushant Anand in the Laboratory for Engineering Surface Dynamics at UIC, Chatterjee is investigating how phase-change materials could be used to address problems associated with ice and frost buildup in the energy and transportation sectors by developing multifunctional spray-on anti-icing formulations.

Chatterjee said he will use the funding from the provost’s office for cryogenic testing at a U.S. Army facility. His ultimate goal is to commercialize these bio-friendly ice-phobic coatings, bringing them from lab to market. Chatterjee mentioned his gratitude to Dr. Hassan Bararnia for assistance in this project.

The department’s second award recipient, Chen, recently won the Technical Merit Award from the Nonwovens Institute for her paper “Investigation of Fiber Properties and Web Properties in Spunbond Process When Webs are Laying Down on Collecting Belts.”

The Nonwovens Institute is an accredited academic program for the interdisciplinary field of engineered fabrics. Based at North Carolina State University, it brings together government, industry, and academic researchers to spur progress in the field.

Chen, advised by Distinguished Professor Alexander Yarin in the Multiscale Mechanics and Nanotechnology Laboratory, is using computer modeling to simulate and understand the spunbond process, which is used in the nonwoven manufacturing of everyday products such as clothing, tampons, diapers, masks, and much more. Her area of interest is the stage before bonding, and her goal is to predict the nonwoven output, its three-dimensional architecture, and potentially its corresponding laydown properties.

“I’m investigating how to innovate new characteristics during the whole process and how it behaves,” Chen said. “It is attracting a lot of attention from people in the nonwoven industry, who think our work is valuable. What I did is to create a very good foundation for new productive innovation.”