Research conducted by a team of scientists at the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS), Hokkaido University, and Yamaguchi University has demonstrated a way to easily synthesize a gel containing high-molecular-weight polymers and non-volatile ionic liquids.
This plastic gel will be recyclable and self-healable, which will reduce the need for petroleum-based plastics.
In addition, it can be potentially used as a durable, ionically conductive material for flexible IoT devices. The paper that describes the team’s work was published in Science Advances.
Polymeric materials that are capable of spontaneously healing damaged areas increase their material lifetimes and make them feasible for promoting a circular economy.
It is true that most reported self-healing polymeric materials in recent years has taken a chemical approach, in which functional groups capable of reversible dissociation and reformation (e.g., hydrogen bonding) have been integrated into polymeric networks.
A major drawback of this approach is that it often requires precise synthetic techniques and complex manufacturing processes.
This physical approach to making polymeric materials has never been explored, but it’s an entirely plausible alternative to chemical crosslinking methods. You don’t need any special equipment and the method only takes a few minutes. All you need is a pair of tweezers.
This recent development has created a new avenue for creating materials that are easily synthesized from UHMW polymers.
The mechanical properties of ultra-high molecular weight (UHMW) gel are superior to those of conventional, chemically crosslinked gels.
In addition to its many other benefits, bamboo can be recycled in a thermal treatment process, and it exhibits remarkable self-healing properties at room temperature.
The new material used for self-healing concrete is expected to promote a circular economy.
This material is synthesized using non-volatile, flammable ionic liquids, and it may be used as a safe, ionically conductive soft material for flexible electronics.