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UPDATED: 5/15/20 - 2:37 p.m.

Catawba College Chemistry Major Is Recipient of National Award

October 5, 2018

Category: Academics, Chemistry, Events, Students

co-chem-devanshell.pngCatawba College senior chemistry major Devan Shell of Ferguson, N.C., has been chosen as an awardee for the Future Leaders in Chemical Engineering Symposium, a national award symposium for undergraduate researchers, which will be held October 21-22 on the campus of N.C. State University in Raleigh.

Shell’s research, titled “Design and Fabrication of a Soft, Flexible Antenna System for Wearable Biomedical Devices,” was completed during his 2018 internship at N.C. State University, in collaboration with Taylor Neumann and Dr. Michael Dickey of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at North Carolina State University.

At the October symposium, Shell will present his research, and then engage with attendees as they stop by his research poster.

Shell, who plans to pursue a Ph.D. in chemical engineering after he graduates from Catawba, had this to say about the award: “I am very excited about the release of this news not necessarily for the personal recognition, but more so for the recognition of Catawba College. I love this place, and I want people to know that Catawba's academic programs are some of the very best. With the help of both our faculty and staff, students within all academic fields are prepared to compete on the national level. This would also be a big selling point to incoming students who prioritize their academics above all else. 

devanshell.jpg“Students are looking to shape the future, and Catawba aids/allows us to do so.”

The award committee took into consideration Shell’s overall research experience in making the award.  He has been a part of, or conducted, a total of four research projects (two completed during the course of internships – one in 2017 at West Virginia University  and the other in 2018 at N.C. State University,  and two completed in-house at Catawba), and he is currently working on another in-house research project.

A member of the Catawba College Honors Program, Shell is president of Catawba’s chapter of the American Chemical Society and president of Gamma Sigma Epsilon Chemical Honors Society.  He serves as a general and organic chemistry supplemental instruction tutor and a Math Center tutor at Catawba. Additionally, he is secretary of Beta Beta Beta Biological Honors Society and secretary of Phi Epsilon Honors Society.  He also served as ALPHA Orientation Leader.

Following is a synopsis of Shell’s award-winning research:

Poster Title: Design and Fabrication of a Soft, Flexible Antenna System for Wearable Biomedical Devices

Devan Shell1, 2, Taylor Neumann1, and Dr. Michael Dickey1                                                    

1Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27607

2Department of Chemistry, Catawba College, Salisbury, NC 28144

In this work, a soft, flexible antenna system using Styrene Ethylene Butylene Styrene (SEBS), Eutectic Gallium Indium (EGaIn) liquid metal, and copper sheets was developed. This antenna is designed to be used within a biomedical wearable device to efficiently transmit and receive electrical signals to another receiver. The unique stacked design of the antenna has the potential to reduce the size of the device by a factor of four, thus creating a concise system that is vital in the field of wearables where size is limited. The SEBS polymer, with a liquid metal (EGaIn) channel inscribed within it, was chemically bonded to copper sheets in multiple alternating stacks of various parameters. A bonding strategy using the epoxy and amine functionalities through oxygen plasma treatment and the utilization of (3-Aminopropyl) triethoxysilane (APTES) and (3-Glycidyloxypropyl) trimethoxysilane (GPTMS) was employed to create a strong chemical bond between the SEBS polymer and the copper sheets throughout the antenna. These bonds can hold up to 35 newtons of force at a contact area of 625 mm2. Stacking multiple EGaIn infused SEBS layers with copper sheets maintains a durable system with a more efficient and reliable flow of electricity within the entire antenna. This new method creates a soft to the touch antenna system that is both flexible and concise, both of which is vital within the areas of wearable devices and consumer preference.


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