Science – New “smart” plastic that is easy to degrade and reuse – Publimetro México

Madrid, 16 (European press)

Plastic is one of the most important modern materials and has been integrated into all aspects of human life after a century of evolution. However, conventional polymeric plastics degrade and regenerate poorly by nature and have become one of the biggest threats to human survival. This situation is the result of the strong inherent strength of the covalent bonds that bind monomers together to form polymers.

To meet the challenge, scientists have proposed making polymers connected by non-covalent bonds that are not as strong as covalent bonds. Unfortunately, the weaker interaction is often not strong enough to bind molecules together in materials of macroscopic sizes, which precludes the practical application of non-covalent materials.

Jianwei Li’s research group at the University of Turku, Finland, discovered that a physical concept called liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) can isolate and concentrate solutes, enhancing intermolecular binding strength and leading to the formation of macroscopic materials. The mechanical property of the resulting material was comparable with conventional polymers.

Moreover, once the material is broken into pieces, the fragments can immediately unite and restore themselves. Moreover, the material was an adhesive when encapsulating saturated amounts of water. For example, steel specimens can withstand a weight of 16 kg for more than a month.

Finally, thanks to the dynamic and reversible nature of the non-covalent interactions, the material was highly biodegradable and recyclable.

“Compared to conventional plastics, our super-molecular plastics are smarter because they not only maintain strong mechanical properties, but also retain the dynamic and reversible properties that make the material self-healing and reusable,” he explained in a statement. Postdoctoral researcher Jingjing Yu.

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He added, “One of the small molecules that produced supramolecular plastics was previously excluded from a complex chemical system. It has formed clever hydrogels with magnesium metal cations. This time, we are very excited to teach this ancient molecule new tricks with LLPS,” he added. ..

“Emerging evidence has shown that LLPS can be an important process during the formation of cell compartments. Now, we are working to develop this biologically and physically inspired phenomenon to meet the great challenge of our environment. I think more interesting materials will be explored through this process,” Lee says. : “LLPS in the near future”.

The study was published in Angewandte Chemie.

Aileen Morales

"Beer nerd. Food fanatic. Alcohol scholar. Tv practitioner. Writer. Troublemaker. Falls down a lot."

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