Paola López Zelaya

Student: Paola López Zelaya

Project: Study of Porous Hydrogels, Specifically as it Related to Diffusion and Dissolution Kinetics | View Poster (PDF)

Institution: Lehigh University

Major: Materials Science and Engineering

Advisor: Daniel Ou-Yang


The goal is to systematically study the diffusion kinetics inside Calcium Carbonate hydrogels. Currently, an acid limited diffusion-reaction model can qualitatively well describe this specific type of diffusion kinetics, nevertheless, a quantitative agreement is sought to be found. First, the porous polymer is fabricated by trapping dispersed calcite particles in a hydrogel, dissolving, and drying it (up to 30% volume fraction of PEGDA) to then be photo-polymerized as flat monoliths (thickness ≈100 μm and 1 cm of lateral extent). The soft hydrogels are then soaked in Hydrochloric Acid that induces the dissolution of the carbonates. The diffusion of the dissolution front, which remains sharp throughout the dissolution, is the kinetic reaction studied. Moreover, the effects that the carbonate particle size has on dissolution kinetics is desired, as well as the effects of different porosity caused from various concentrations of CaCO3 diffused by hydrochloric acid inside the hydrogel are pursued.

About Paola López Zelaya

Paola López, is a third year undergraduate student majoring in Material Science and Engineering major and minoring in Product Design. She believes that an engineering and technical background combined with a creative design mentality are the key elements for entrepreneurial innovation, as well as to tackle any type of real world problem. In an industrial scene, she worked in a private chemical company called Solvay S.A as a research intern in Bordeaux, France. The research she carried out on soft matter was used to write a paper about the diffusion of calcium carbonates inside porous hydrogels that has been published in the Royal Society of Chemistry with Lopez as a co-author. She also participated in the Lehigh Silicon Valley Program in partnership with the NASDAQ Center where she was able to learn about successful product development and services offered by amazing entrepreneurial companies such as Google, Uber, VMware, Adobe, and more. She is currently conducting research on a point-of-care sickle cell anemia diagnostic test strip as part of her technical entrepreneurship capstone project. Her hobbies include training for marathons because she finds value in the discipline needed for this sport, which is long, hard core, physical and mental. As a member of the translating committee in Engineer Without Borders, Paola has learned the importance of communication in team scenarios in order to achieve a desired goal.

Lehigh Engineering Undergraduate Research Symposium

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