Dr. Thein Kyu

Dr. Thein Kyu

Title: Distinguished Professor
Dept/Program: School of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering
Office: PEAC 319
Phone: 330-972-6672
Fax: 330-972-3406
Email: tkyu@uakron.edu
Curriculum Vitae: Download in PDF format


Kyu received Ph. D. in Polymer Chemistry, Faculty of Engineering, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan in 1980. Prior to joining the Department of Polymer Engineering at the University of Akron in 1983, he was a post-doctoral research fellow at the Department of Chemistry, McGill University, Montreal, Canada in 1980-81 and a research associate at the Polymer Research Institute, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 1981-83. Currently, he is a distinguished professor at the Department of Polymer Engineering. His research has culminated in some 230 refereed papers, 5 patents, and 3 books.


Kyu's research interest encompasses phase equilibria and kinetics of phase separation in polymer blends; phase field modeling on pattern formation aspects of crystalline polymers; molecular composites; ionexchange membranes for proton fuel cells; secondary rechargeable Li ion batteries; phase transitions of liquid crystals; electro-optical properties of dispersed liquid crystal and photonic crystals; biodegradable polymers, all the way to phytochemicals modified membranes for dialysis.

Flexoionic Polymer Electrolyte Membranes:

Flexoelectricity generation occurs during the Cantilever bending of solid, flexoionic polymer electrolyte membranes developed at the laboratory of Thein Kyu. This novel flexoionic PEM material has opened new opportunity for energy harvesting from natural resources such as wind, ocean waves and rolling tires. The flexoelectric voltage and current thus generated are sizable for flexible sensor applications in smart wearable devices, including shoes/soles, wraps, sleeves, gloves or other garments to function as health monitoring therapeutic devices for electrocardiogram or electromyogram as well as to expedite pain relief or bone-healing of sports injuries.

Patent No: US 2018/0337417
Publication Date: 22 Nov 2018
Inventors: Thein Kyu, Camilo Piedrahita, Jinwei Cao

Solid-Sate Lithium Ion Battery:

The development of solid polymer electrolytes for lithium ion batteries has been a major challenge in the energy storage industry. In present lithium batteries, organic solvents are used as a means of energizing the ionic salt and promoting ion transport through polymer membranes. However, interaction between solvents and electrodes can lead to contamination, reducing battery shelf-life. Additionally, the organic reagents are contained in metal containers of various shapes, making batteries heavy and bulky, such that significant space is required for intended applications, e.g., electric vehicles. Moreover, damaged or leaky battery containers can present a safety risk.

The present work successfully produced a light weight solid polymer electrolyte film without requiring any solvent (see above). The chemistry is based on ternary blends of a polymer matrix, plasticizer, and ionic material. Specific examples are crosslinkable polyether, succinonitrile, and lithium salt. Optimized compositions can provide films which are flexible, transparent, and moldable in any shape or geometry, while maintaining outstanding ionic conductivity comparable to or better than the current lithium batteries that require organic solvents and separators.

Title: Stretchable, Solvent Free, Completely Amorphous Solid Electrolyte Films
Patent No: US 9,548,514
Issue Date: 17 Jan 2017
Inventors: Thein Kyu, Mauricio Echeverri

Flexoionic Sensor Embedded in Rubber:

Applications – Electrical energy harvesting from flexoionic PEMs embedded in a rubber compound subjected to dynamic oscillatory deformation

The flexoionic PEM film can be oscillated over 4800 cycles at ease as manifested by the invariant amplitude of the current thus generated.

Innovative solid polymer electrolyte membranes for all-solid-state Magnesium ion battery - Department of Energy: SBIR – Phase I Grant #DE-SC002479, a subcontract #2020-01 through Chemtronergy, LLC

Flexoionic polymer electrolyte membranes for energy harvesting and storage devices - Supported by NSF-DMR 1502543 “Neuron technologically inspired multilayered polymer electrolyte membranes to harness ion concentration gradient for energy restoration, (2015-2019)”

Free standing flexible lithium-ion polymer electrolyte membranes formed by photopolymerization:
NSF-DMR 1161070

Click on a link below to watch a video demonstration:

Highlights of Accomplishment

  • Completely amorphous and transparent
  • Solid-state electrolyte and require no solvent
  • Flexible and stretchable
  • Light weight and moldable!
  • Highly conductive (>E-3 S/cm)
  • With safety and space saving attributes
  • Extinguishable


  • Mauricio Echeverri (Ph. D.)
  • Ruixuan He (Ph. D. student)
  • Guopeng Fu (MS student)
  • Jinwei Cao (MS student)
  • Cosetts Hamad (Copley High School)
  • Daniel Ward (REU-UA, Miami University)


Ohio Innovation Exchange

  • Editorial overview: Recent developments in additive manufacturing
    1 Jun 2020 Current Opinion in Chemical Engineering 28:a1-a3
    Nadagouda M, Sekhar J, Kyu T
  • Flexoelectricity in Flexoionic Polymer Electrolyte Membranes: Effect of Thiosiloxane Modification on Poly(ethylene glycol) Diacrylate and Ionic Liquid Electrolyte Composites.
    26 Mar 2020 ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 12(14):16978-16986
    Piedrahita CR, Yue P, Cao J, Lee H, Rajapaksha CP, Feng C, Jákli A, Kyu T
  • Ion conductive polymer electrolyte membranes based on star-branched poly(ethylene-glycol tri-acrylate) and polysulfide macromonomers
    1 Mar 2020 Solid State Ionics 346:115182
    Onozuka R, Piedrahita C, Yanagida Y, Adachi K, Tsukahara Y, Kyu T
  • Poly(ethylene glycol) Diacrylate Based Electro‐Active Ionic Elastomer
    1 Mar 2020 Macromolecular Rapid Communications 41(6):e1900636
    Rajapaksha CPH, Feng C, Piedrahita C, Cao J, Kaphle V, Lüssem B, Kyu T, Jákli A
  • CHAPTER: Theory and Simulation for Dynamics of Polymerization-Induced Phase Separation in Reactive Polymer Blends
    3 Feb 2020 Heterophase Network Polymers 91-106
    Kyu T, Chiu H-W, Lee J-H
  • Mechanoelectrical Transduction of Polymer Electrolyte Membranes: Effect of Branched Networks.
    29 Jan 2020 ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 12(6):7518-7528
    Albehaijan HA, Piedrahita CR, Cao J, Soliman M, Mitra S, Kyu T
  • Tuning Flexoelectric Effect in Polymer Electrolyte Membranes via Cation Selection for Potential Energy Harvesting Applications
    27 Jan 2020 ACS Applied Energy Materials 3(1):328-335
    Cao J, Rendon Piedrahita C, Zhao Z, Vogt BD, Kyu T
  • Role of dinitrile plasticizer chain lengths in electrochemical performance of highly conductive polymer electrolyte membrane for lithium ion battery
    1 Jan 2020 Electrochimica Acta 330:135320
    Feng C, Kyu T
  • Electroresponsive Ionic Liquid Crystal Elastomers
    1 Oct 2019 Macromolecular Rapid Communications 40(19):e1900299
    Feng C, Rajapaksha CPH, Cedillo JM, Piedrahita C, Cao J, Kaphle V, Lüssem B, Kyu T, Jákli A
  • Mechanoelectrical Conversion in Highly Ionic Conductive Solid‐State Polymer Electrolyte Membranes
    1 May 2019 Macromolecular Materials and Engineering 304(5):1800777
    Cao J, Piedrahita C, Kyu T


  • 1980 Ph. D., Polymer Chemistry, College of Engineering, Kyoto University
  • 1974 M. S., Polymer Chemistry, College of Engineering, Kyoto University
  • 1972 B.S., Textile Engineering, Kyoto Institute of Technology