Chemically induced repair, adhesion, and recycling of polymers made by inverse vulcanization

Journal: Chemical Science

Published: 2020-06-03

DOI: 10.1039/d0sc00855a

Affiliations: 5

Authors: 7

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Research Highlight

A cooler route to strong polymer bonds

© Bloomberg Creative/Bloomberg Creative Photos/Getty Images

© Bloomberg Creative/Bloomberg Creative Photos/Getty Images

A room-temperature method for strongly bonding two polymer surfaces could lead to applications in polymer use, repair and recycling.

The molecules of conventional polymers are based on strings of carbon atoms, but some recently developed polymers are at least half sulfur by mass. As sulfur compounds typically make and break bonds more readily than their carbon counterparts, these polymers gain some unusual properties. When cut, for example, applying heat can heal the rift by forming new sulfur–sulfur bonds across the break.

Now, a team led by Flinders University researchers has developed a way to trigger sulfur–sulfur bond formation at room temperature using an amine catalyst.

As well as healing damage, the process can be used to bond two objects together, or as a way to form new objects after grinding the polymer to a powder during recycling. The team is pursuing potential applications in industrial contexts.

Supported content

  1. Chemical Science 11, 5537–5546 (2020). doi: 10.1039/d0sc00855a
Institutions Share
Flinders University, Australia 0.64
The University of Western Australia (UWA), Australia 0.14
University of Liverpool, United Kingdom (UK) 0.14
Flinders Microscopy and Microanalysis, Australia 0.07