Irvin Group research is divided into two main areas: electroactive polymers and nanoparticle formulation/characterization.

Electroactive polymers: These polymers change their properties in the presence of an electric field.  They are useful for sensors, charge storage, drug delivery, static dissipation, corrosion inhibition, actuators, and electrochromics, among other things.  We are particularly interested in:

Jose Garcia in lab

Undergraduate student Jose Garcia purifying a new compound

  • synthesis of novel n-doping polymers with enhanced stability.
  • using electroactive polymers to develop energy storage devices as alternatives to traditional batteries and capacitors.
  • improving understanding of ion movement into and out of electroactive polymers in an electric field and using that understanding to improve polymer properties.
  • using ionic liquid electrolytes to enhance stability of electroactive polymer-based devices.
  • using nanoscale templating approaches to enhance electroactivity.


Nanoparticle formulation/characterization:  Our nanoparticle research is focused on how nanoparticles can be prepared or modified for use as enhanced efficiency fuels. Novel methods of preparation of metal and metal oxide nanoparticles have been developed. Functionalization and/or coating of nanoparticles provide a way to modify nanoparticle surfaces to control reactivity and properties.    Reactions require the use of airless techniques and sonication.  Characterization requires the use of several types of advanced instrumentation, including light scattering, Brownian motion microscopy, thermal analysis, scanning electron microscopy, and spectroscopy.

Students in the group have the opportunity to develop a broad range of useful capabilities including:

Travis Cantu poster

Dr. Betancourt, Travis Cantu (doctoral student, Betancourt/Irvin labs) and Dr. Irvin with their joint poster at a National Science Foundation meeting, Washington DC, May 2013

  • Synthesis of novel organic molecules such as functionalized heterocycles
  • Polymerization (oxidative, non-oxidative, electrochemical)
  • Standard organic and polymer characterization techniques
  • Electrochemical characterization
  • Device fabrication and testing
  • Nanoparticle manipulation and characterization