- Ph.D., California Institute of Technology
- M.S., California Institute of Technology
- B.S., University of Alicante
Research opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students
The group is currently looking for motivated graduate and undergraduate students. Backgrounds/majors in Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Materials Science, Physics, and Chemistry are all excellent fits for our research group.
If you are interested in available research opportunities, please contact Prof. Fernández-Ballester.
Areas of Research and Professional Interest
- Conducting polymers for energy applications
- Life cycle, sustainability, and environmental impact of polymers
- Polymer crystallization
- Processing and engineering of polymers
- Polymer composites
About Lucia Fernandez-Ballester
My goal is to address growing technological needs by understanding and controlling the fundamental mechanism of crystallization of polymers during processing. Currently, advances in synthesis of polymers offer unprecedented opportunities to direct crystallization, morphology, and properties. Also, newer technologies such as 3D-printing are rapidly developing but have not yet reached their full potential. My research seeks to overcome current limitations to achieve rational design of materials and processes, which can lead to complex materials of advanced properties.
In my lab, a range of in-situ and ex-situ experimental techniques is used to explore the interplay between molecular characteristics, structure development, and final morphology and properties. Some of the experimental techniques that we use are differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), polarized optical microscopy (POM), real-time optical birefringence, and synchrotron X-ray scattering (WAXD/SAXS).
- National Science Foundation
- Nebraska Center for Energy Sciences Research
- Nebraska Research Initiative
- Woollam Foundation
K.A. Hussain, S. Romanova, I. Okur, D. Zhang, J. Kuebler, X Huang, B. Wang, L. Fernandez-Ballester, Y. Lu, M. Schubert, Y. Li, “Assessing the Release of Microplastics and Nanoplastics from Plastic Containers and Reusable Food Pouches: Implications for Human Health”, Environmental Science & Technology 57, 9782–9792 (2023). Featured as a Research Highlight in Nature (https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-02091-w).
- J. Kuebler, T. Loosbrock, J. Strzalka, L. Fernandez-Ballester, “Direct observation of two-step, stratified crystallization and morphology in conjugated polymers”, Macromolecules 56, 3083-3094 (2023). Featured in the Front Cover.
- R. Hosseinabad, J. Kuebler, L. Fernandez-Ballester, "Combined role of regioregularity and molecular weight on melt-crystallization and self-nucleation of poly(3-hexylthiophene)", Polymer 257, 125341 (2022).
- W. Qian, J. Kuebler, L. Fernandez-Ballester, J. Turner, "Integrated microscopic analysis of lamellar structure in isotactic polypropylene spherulite at nanoscale", Microscopy and Microanalysis 27 (S1), 230-231 (2021).
- M. Guivier, J. Kuebler, T. Swanson, C. Lawson, L. Fernandez-Ballester, M. Negahban, M.P. Sealy, "Mechanical Behavior of ABS after Interlayer Ultrasonic Peening Printed by Fused Filament Fabrication", International Solid Freeform Fabrication Symposium (2021).
L.R. Zheng, L. Fernandez-Ballester, G.W.M. Peters, Z. Ma, “Concomitant Crystallization in Propylene/Ethylene Random Copolymer with Strong Flow at Elevated Temperatures”, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research 57, 6870-6877 (2018).
B. Schammé, E. Dargent, and L. Fernandez-Ballester, “Effect of Random Ethylene Comonomer on Relaxation of Flow-Induced Precursors in Isotactic Polypropylene”, Macromolecules 50, 6396−6403 (2017).
X. Monnier, L. Chevalier, A. Esposito, L. Fernandez-Ballester, A. Saiter, E. Dargent, “Local and segmental motions of the mobile amorphous fraction in semi-crystalline polylactide crystallized under quiescent and flow-induced conditions”, Polymer 126, 141-151 (2017).
L. Balzano, Z. Ma, D. Cavallo, T.B. van Erp, L. Fernandez-Ballester, and G.W.M. Peters, “Molecular Aspects of the Formation of Shish-Kebab in Isotactic Polypropylene”, Macromolecules 49, 3799-3809 (2016).
Z. Ma, L Fernandez-Ballester, D. Cavallo, T. Gough, G.W.M. Peters, “High-stress shear induced crystallization in isotactic polypropylene and propylene/ethylene random copolymers”, Macromolecules 46, 2671-2680 (2013).
L. Fernandez-Ballester, D.W. Thurman, W. Zhou, J.A. Kornfield, “The effect of long chains on the threshold stresses for flow-induced crystallization in iPP: Shish-kebabs vs. sausages”, Macromolecules 45, 6557-6570 (2012).
H. Wang, J. Cuppens, E. Biermans, S. Bals, L. Fernandez-Ballester, K.O. Kvashnina, W. Bras, M.J. Van bael, K. Temst, A. Vantomme, “Tuning of the size and the lattice parameter of ion-beam synthesized Pb nanoparticles embedded in Si”, Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics 45, 035301 (2012).
A. Dhotel, H. Li, L. Fernandez-Ballester, L. Delbreilh, B. Youssef, X.C. Zeng, L. Tan, “Supramolecular Nanolayer Reconfiguration after Molecular Intercalation”, The Journal of Physical Chemistry 115, 10351-10356 (2011).
L. Balzano, D. Cavallo, T. Erp, Z. Ma, J.W. Housmans, L. Fernandez-Ballester, G.W. Peters, “Dynamics of fibrillar precursors of shish blocks as a function of stress”, IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering 14, 012005 (2010).
L. Fernandez-Ballester, D.W. Thurman, and J.A. Kornfield, “Real-time depth sectioning method: isolating the effect of stress on structure development in pressure-driven flow”, Journal of Rheology 53, 1229-1224 (2009).
R.K. Krishnaswamy, Q. Yang, L. Fernandez-Ballester, and J.A. Kornfield, “Effect of the distribution of short-chain branches on crystallization kinetics and mechanical properties of high-density polyethylene”, Macromolecules 41, 1693-1704 (2008).
L. Fernandez-Ballester, T. Gough, F. Meneau, W. Bras, F. Ania, F.J. Balta-Calleja, and J.A. Kornfield, “Simultaneous birefringence, small- and wide-angle X-ray scattering to detect precursors and characterize morphology development during flow-induced crystallization of polymers”, Journal of Synchrotron Radiation15, 185-190 (2008).
Sevegney, M.S., G. Parthasarthy, R.M. Kannan, D.W. Thurman, and L. Fernandez-Ballester, “Deformation-induced morphology changes and orientation behavior in syndiotactic polypropylene”, Macromolecules 36, 6472-6483 (2003).