Plastics Engineering Researchers Receive $505K Grant From Raytheon

Study Will Focus on Stimuli-Responsive Polymers

Asst. Prof. Bridgette Budhlall, left, working with Ph.D. candidate Tatiya Trongsatitkula in the lab.

Asst. Prof. Bridgette Budhlall, left, working with Ph.D. candidate Tatiya Trongsatitkula in the lab.

05/01/2012
By Edwin L. Aguirre

A team of researchers from UMass Lowell’s Plastics Engineering Department, led by Asst. Prof. Bridgette Budhlall, recently received a three-year $505,373 grant from Raytheon. The Waltham-based company is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, homeland security and other government markets throughout the world.

“The team will use the funds to design, develop and evaluate polymers as thin-film/coating systems for applications in a chemical sensor device,” says Budhlall, who serves as the project’s principal investigator (PI). 

She says the polymer coatings will allow the sensor to remotely detect very low concentrations (in parts per million) of hazardous agents in the environment.

“By controlling the chemical composition and morphology of the polymers, we are able to control the sensor’s selectivity when exposed to an external stimulus, whether it’s heat, pH, laser, microwave, magnetic or chemical,” she says.

Budhlall will focus on synthesizing the polymer and thin-film coatings. She is assisted by Robinson Anandakathir, a post-doctoral fellow working with her. 

“Detailed analyses of structure-property relationships, specifically with regard to the thermal and mechanical properties of the thin films, are being conducted by our collaborator, Asst. Prof. Meg Sobkowicz-Kline, and by my co-PI,  Prof. Joey Mead,” she says.

Both Sobkowicz-Kline and Mead are in the Plastics Engineering Department.