Rheology of liquid crystalline polymers and polymer blends; novel ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene; nano composites.
Prof Gao's major research focus is on the micro-rheology study of structured polymer melts. These include thermotropic liquid crystalline polymers (TLCPs), polymer blends containing TLCPs, and polymer blends containing nanoclay fillers. The objective is to elucidate the mechanisms of the shear induced microstructure changes as well as the processability and subsequent crystallization behaviour of the maxtrix.
Prof Gao is also interested in the development of high performance materials, particularly high-strength, high stiffness and high-toughness ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) fibers and films. Addition of carbon nanotubes to the UHMWPE matrix with enhanced creep resistance and ductility is also being investigated. In addition, new processing routes for wear and creep resistant UHMWPE for use in total-joint replacements have also been developed.