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James Caruthers

Gerald and Sarah Skidmore Professor of Chemical Engineering

FRNY 2043C
Purdue University
Davidson School of Chemical Engineering
Forney Hall of Chemical Engineering
480 Stadium Mall Drive
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2100
(765) 494-6625 (office)
(765) 494-0805 (fax)
Joined Purdue in 1977
S.B.(Chem) Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1975
S.M. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1976
Ph.D Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1977

Research Interests

Professor Caruthers believes in the mission of a land grant university to help promote the general welfare of the nation by a balanced portfolio of research and education, where both the research and educational programs need to be innovative and of the highest quality.

The research activities of Prof. Caruthers’ group have focused on describing the physical properties of polymers. A project of current interest is developing a fundamental understanding of the mechanical behavior of polymers in the glassy state. Caruthers’ research group has developed new models that include fluctuations that are inherent at the nano-scale, where the resulting constitutive models can for the first time unify the diverse nonlinear viscoelastic behavior exhibited by glassy polymers. In a second research thrust Prof. Caruthers’ group has developed fundamental descriptions of olefin polymerization kinetics. The unique features of the polymerization work are (i) the kinetic models include explicit accounting for 10,000 or more molecules in the system and (ii) the full range of molecular data is employed including monomer consumption, evolution of the molecular weight and other chemical details as determined by various NMR techniques. The polymerization modeling of the Caruthers’ group in partnership with Professors Delgass and Abu-Omar defines the state-of-the-art in polymerization kinetic modeling.

In the last decade a second major activity has emerged. Prof. Caruthers leads a major education program called M-STEM, i.e. Motorsport-STEM, that uses motorsports technology to engage students in the STEM disciplines. One part of the M-STEM program involves collegiate and high school teams that design, build and test electric go-karts as a hands-on compliment to their more traditional course work. Then student teams race their electric go-karts in the evGrandPrix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as part of the Indy500 festivities. From a small start, the evGrandPrix now engages collegiate and high school teams from across Indiana, the USA and Europe, The M-STEM program has recently expanded its activities to develop hands-on science projects for the traditional classroom, where the science is motivated by the electric go-kart technology.

Finally, Prof. Caruthers is actively working on developing digital content that can be used for distance education. One course under development is Introduction to Polymer Science and Engineering; a second digital course is Engineering Math: Differential Equations. This digital content is being piloted as part of the current Purdue courses, where the intent is eventually to offer these courses at distance. In Prof. Caruthers’ opinion, the university needs to expand its educational footprint beyond in-residence students if Purdue is to meet its land grant mission of promoting the education and welfare of the nation.

Research Group

Visiting Scholars and Postdoctoral Associates

  • Jeffrey Switzer

Graduate Students

  • Jungsuk Kim
  • Yelin Ni

Research Associates

  • Grisha Medvedev
  • Stuart White

Awards and Honors

Curtis McGraw, American Society of Engineering Education, 1990
Fellow, American Physical Society, 2016
Purdue College of Engineering, Engagement/Service Award, 2017

Selected Publications

'Thermo-Mechanical Signatures of Glassy Polymers' in 'Polymer Glasses', J.M. Caruthers and G.A. Medvedev, edited by C.B. Roth, Taylor and Francis, London, 107-178 (2017).

'A Comparison of Constitutive Descriptions of the Thermo-Mechanical Behavior of Polymeric Glasses,' in 'Polymer Glasses', G.A. Medvedev and J.M. Caruthers, edited by C.B. Roth, Taylor and Francis, London, 453-538 (2017).

"Predictions of Volume Relaxation in Glass Forming Materials Using a Stochastic Constitutive Model," G.A. Medvedev and J.M. Caruthers, Macromolecules, 48(3) 788-800, 2015.

"On thermodynamic consistency of a stochastic constitutive model for glassy polymers," G.A. Medvedev and J.M. Caruthers, Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research, 54(42), 10472-10480, 2015.

"Stochastic Model Prediction of Tertiary Creep in Glassy Polymers," G.A. Medvedev and J.M. Caruthers, Polymer, 74, 235-253, 2015.

"Quantitative Comparative Kinetics of 1-Hexene Polymerization across Group IV Bis-Phenolate Catalysts," P.D. Pletcher, J.M. Switzer, D.K. Steelman, G.A. Medvedev, W.N. Delgass, J.M. Caruthers and M.M. Abu-Omar, ACS Catalysis, 6(8), 5138-5145, 2016.

"Interaction between Two Active Sites of the Catalyst for Macromonomer Enchained Olefin Polymerization," T. Gunasekara, J. Kim, A. Preston, D.K. Steelman, G.A. Medvedev, W.N. Delgass, M.M. Abu-Omar and J.M. Caruthers, Macromolecules, 50, 9151-9161, 2017.

"Steric and Solvation Effects on Polymerization Kinetics, Dormancy, and Tacticity of Zr-Salan Catalysts," A. Z. Preston, J. Kim, G.A. Medvedev, W. N. Delgass, J. M. Caruthers, and M. M. Abu-Omar, Organometallics, 36, 2237-2244, 2017.