Louis Madsen

Associate Professor

Physical, Polymer, and Materials Chemistry

Research Interests

Our perceptions of soft materials (e.g., polymers or liquid crystals) rely mostly on bulk macroscopic properties and on observations made after synthesis and processing are complete. However, to best design soft materials we must gain insights into their structure and dynamics on length scales ranging from molecular to micron-scale, as all these details govern macroscopic behavior. We use multi-modal nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to investigate and quantify molecular motion, structure, dynamics, and morphology. Thus, we hope to span the molecular and macroscopic worlds, both to give a deeper picture of soft material behavior and to inform synthesis and processing efforts.

Our diverse research group combines perspectives from Physical, Polymer, and Analytical Chemistry. We make detailed measurements, develop physical and chemical models, and design and build custom instrumentation and new materials.

Specific interests in our group include:

  • Investigating the roles of orientational order and transport in the behaviors of polymers, with applications in batteries, fuel cells, water purification, mechanical actuators, and theranostic agents that combine drug delivery and MRI contrast.
  • Exploring local dynamics and molecular correlations in ionic liquids, liquid crystals, and other partially structured liquids.
  • Using our fundamental understanding to create new materials (e.g., ionic liquid-polymer gels for battery electrolytes) and to enhance macroscopic properties such as conductivity or optical refraction.
  • Correlating bulk polymer or complex fluid deformation (rheology) with molecular and micron-scale details via rheo-NMR.
  • Developing and combining an array of NMR and other techniques (SAXS, microscopy, modeling) to gain deep perspectives on soft materials.   We focus on use of gradient NMR methods such as microimaging, diffusometry, and electrophoretic NMR to measure molecular motions and morphology, as well as  2H NMR to measure molecular alignment
  1. “Highly Conductive and Thermally Stable Ion Gels with Tunable Anisotropy and Modulus” Ying Wang, Ying Chen, Jianwei Gao, Hyun Gook Yoon, Liyu Jin, Maria Forsyth, Theo J. Dingemans and Louis A. Madsen. Advanced Materials (2016). doi: 10.1002/adma.201505183.
  2. “Multiscale Lithium and Counterion Transport Within an Electrospun Polymer-Gel Electrolyte” Bryce E. Kidd, Scott J. Forbey, Friedrich W. Steuber, Robert B. Moore, and Louis A. Madsen. Macromolecules (2015) 48, 4481–4490. doi: 10.1021/acs.macromol.5b00573.
  3. “Anisotropic MRI contrast reveals enhanced ionic transport in plastic crystals” Konstantin Romanenko, Liyu Jin, Luke A. O'Dell, Louis A. Madsen, Jennifer M. Pringle, and Maria Forsyth. Journal of the American Chemical Society (2014) 136, 15638-15645. doi: 10.1021/ja508290z.
  4. “Diffusion of Drug Delivery Nanoparticles into Biogels using Time-Resolved MicroMRI” Xiaoling Wang, Ying Chen, Nipon Pothayee, Lian Xue, Theresa M. Reineke, Judy S. Riffle, and Louis A. Madsen. Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters (2014) 5, 3825-3830. doi: 10.1021/jz501929u.
  5. “Humidity-modulated phase control and nanoscopic transport in supramolecular assemblies” Ying Chen, Mark D. Lingwood, Mithun Goswami, Bryce E. Kidd, Jaime J. Hernandez Rueda, Martin Rosenthal, Dimitri A. Ivanov, Jan Perlich, Heng Zhang, Xiaomin Zhu, Martin Möller, and Louis A. Madsen. Journal of Physical Chemistry B (2014), 118, 3207–3217. doi: 10.1021/jp409266r.
  6. “Unraveling the local energetics of transport in a polymer ion conductor” Mark D. Lingwood, Zhiyang Zhang, Bryce E. Kidd, Kacey B. McCreary, Jianbo Hou, and Louis A. Madsen. Chemical Communications (2013), 49, 4283-4285, doi: 10.1039/C2CC37173A.
  7. “Linear coupling of alignment with transport in a polymer electrolyte membrane” J. Li, J. K. Park, R. B. Moore, and L. A. Madsen. Nature Materials (2011), 10, 507-511. dx.doi.org/10.1038/NMAT3048.
  8. “Cation/Anion Associations in Ionic Liquids Modulated by Hydration and Ionic Medium” J. Hou, Z. Zhang, and L. A. Madsen. Journal of Physical Chemistry B (2011), 115, 4576-4582. dx.doi.org/10.1021/jp1110899.
  • NSF CAREER Award, 2008
  • B.A. Grinnell College (Iowa), 1994
  • Ph.D. California Institute of Technology NSF & Dow Fellowships, 2002
  • Postdoctoral Associate, University of North Carolina, 2002–2006
Louis Madsen


Email: lmadsen@vt.edu
Office: 319 Davidson Hall
Phone: 540-231-1270
Group Website: http://www.madsen.chem.vt.edu/

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