Dr. Matuana's areas of expertise are:
- Bio-based plastics and materials
- Natural fiber plastic composites
Professor Matuana is a Fellow of the Society of Plastics Engineers (FSPE). His research focuses on processing of bio-based materials, with emphasis on the use of natural and renewable plant resources for the development of sustainable, high performance products for packaging and other innovative applications. His research is specifically centered on fundamental issues related to the manufacturing process while developing material formulations to create a new class of products and/or improve the shortcomings of existing materials. Although his current research projects are aimed at improving the barrier performance and flexibility of bio-plastic films, his research interests include, but are not limited to the following areas:
- Polymer processing of bio-foams for packaging and other applications (Micro-cellular foaming with super-critical fluids);
- Nanotechnology (Nano-composites-based on bio-plastics and cellulose nano-crystals and cellulose nano-fibers);
- Hybrid materials for rigid and flexible packaging and other applications (Fundamental aspects related to natural fiber-reinforced plastic composites, i.e., fracture mechanics, durability, rheology, surface modification, adhesion, etc.);
- Functionalization and compatibilization of bio-plastics with eco-friendly plant-based additives to enhance flexibility and barrier performance of films;
With regard to mentoring students, Dr. Matuana has supervised several undergraduate research assistants and independent studies with US and international students. He has also been very active in mentoring graduate students. His former doctoral students now hold faculty positions, while others are engineers/scientists in government or industry.
Former graduate students have presented papers at national and/or international conferences, most of which received awards for the best technical papers. Dr. Matuana and his graduate students hold several patents and his research has had a broad reach. They have been published in many peer-reviewed journals and books, and have earned numerous best paper awards and honors from various professional organizations (h-index of 36 in the Web of Knowledge, as of December 1, 2015).
He serves on the Board of Directors as well as the Technical Program Committee for the Vinyl Plastics Division of SPE. Currently, he is a member of the editorial board for 2 journals and is the appointed Associate Editor of the Journal of Vinyl & Additive Technology.
PKG 323 Packaging with Plastics: Physical and chemical properties of plastics and their relationship to selection, design, manufacture, performance, and evaluation of packages.
PKG 490 Directed Studies in Packaging: Development of solutions to specific packaging problems. Supervised individual study.
PKG 827 Polymeric Packaging Materials: Physical and chemical properties of polymeric materials and structures used in packaging. Relationship of properties to performance.
PKG 828 Packaging Plastics Processing: Processing of packaging plastics: extrusion, coating, film, containers. Effects of processing variables on morphology and performance.