Scientists Develop Novel Highly Recyclable and Degradable Supramolecular Plastic

Sep, 2022 - By SMI

Scientists Develop Novel Highly Recyclable and Degradable Supramolecular Plastic

In a new study, scientists have developed a supramolecular plastic having comparable mechanical strength to traditional plastic as they worked with bonds in the material

A study conducted by researchers at University of Turku, Finland that experimented with next-generation plastics has given rise to a material that possesses some exceptional qualities such as breaking down quickly after use. The new environment friendly supramolecular plastic is highly recyclable and it can be transformed into an adhesive or a self-healing material when damaged by changing its water content.

Traditional plastic consists robust chemical bonds in monomers inside them due to which they persist for longer periods in the environment. In this new study, the researchers experimented with plastic to create a material based on non-covalent bonds instead of plastic with covalent bonds. The team used a technique known as liquid-liquid phase separation or LLPS to develop a supramolecular plastic that contains weaker connections between particles suitable for degradation and recycling. The new material consists mechanical strength of traditional plastic as it contains non-covalent bonds with higher strength and can be reversed. This gives the material its ability to recycled or degrade after the use.

The new plastic also offers a significant ability of being stretchable and deformable having low content of water and increase in the water content transforms this material into an adhesive. Moreover, when the water content is high, the plastic can heal itself quickly whenever it is damaged. Self-healing polymers have become a significant technology having various potentials and applications. Such polymers could be used in car paints, mobile phone cases and even next-generation batteries to repair scratches and other purposes.

According to the team, this approach can be used for combining this self-healing property with recyclability and degradability to open up various opportunities for environment-friendly supramolecular plastics in various potential applications.

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