Tirrell Group: Hao Wu

Graduate Student

Tirrell Group


Hao is currently employing directed self-assembly of ionic block copolymer to fabricate anisotropic polyelectrolyte hydrogel for battery applications. Oppositely charged block copolymer can be mixed together to form liquid-liquid macroscopic phase separated domains by electrostatic interactions. In most cases, however, these ionic domains exhibit random structures like spheres, cylinders and lamella, depending mainly on weight concentration. It remains difficult to achieve macroscopic orientation of ionic domains inside polyelectrolyte hydrogel, which is promising for battery electrolyte application because it provides unique pathways for ion conduction.

The key of this project lies on directing the self-assembly of ionic domains and the visualization of the resulting morphologies. Hao is now utilizing four methods, including chemo- and graphoepitaxy, external field and shear alignment, to make long range ordered structures into reality.


Hao was born and raised in Huzhou, China, a tranquil city famous for silk and small business. Hao received his B.A. in Materials Chemistry and finished his master study in Materials Science and Engineering at University of Science and Technology Beijing in Spring 2014. He also got a B.A. in Economics from Peking University. Hao is currently a member of the Ph.D. program in IME at the University of Chicago, working on directed assembly of polyelectrolyte hydrogel for battery applications. Before that, Hao did research on design and development of multi-responsive nanoscale carriers for drug delivery under Professor Huai Yang and Guojie Wang, where he first learned the magic of the nano-world. Hao also worked as a summer intern at ABB Group for 4 months, employing nano-composites for battery applications, and as a research analyst at China Ministry of Environmental Protection on wastewater treatment for half a year. Besides, Hao enjoys sports, reading and communication.

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