Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Theory May Help Design Tomorrow's Sustainable Polymer

12.12.2008
Tomorrow's specialty plastics may be produced more precisely and cheaply thanks to the apparently tight merger of a theory by a University of Oregon chemist and years of unexplained data from real world experiments involving polymers in Europe.

The work, which researchers believe may lead to a new class of materials, is described in a paper appearing in the Dec. 18 issue of the Journal of Physical Chemistry B (online Dec. 11). The findings eventually could prove useful in the fields of engineering, nanotechnology, renewable energy and, potentially, medicine, because proteins, DNA, RNA and other large molecules within cells may well move in the same way as those in plastics.

Traditional theory behind the processing of plastic materials since the 1960s has focused on the movement of individual macromolecules as they move by one another. Materials researchers, under this approach, end up with poorly understood products and unexplained data. The new theory of cooperative motion in liquids of polymers successfully explains these observations by considering the coordinated motion of macromolecules with their surrounding neighbors. The end result could remove guesswork and the costly, time-consuming testing of thousands of samples at various stages of production.

"The level of agreement between the data and the theory is remarkable," said Marina G. Guenza, a professor of theoretical physical chemistry at the UO. "We are making the connection between the chemistry of molecules and how they behave. It is really fundamental science. Our findings are exciting for experimentalists because we can see phenomena that they cannot understand. This theory is now explaining what is happening inside their samples. They are no longer dealing with just a set of data; our theory provides a picture of what is happening."

Guenza simplifies her mathematics-heavy theory -- built on Langevin equations that describe the movement of particles in liquid or gas -- to watching students disembark from a crowded bus. Any one student wanting to exit is stuck in place -- or meanders randomly in available spaces -- until other students begin moving toward the exit. As students organize into a group they become coordinated and speed their departure.

The theory addresses the often-seen subdiffusive behavior of molecules as they begin to form a glass under processing -- explaining why molecules slow and freeze into disorganized structures rather than ordering into a crystal, Guenza said. "We would really like to be able to control the properties of the material so that we can tailor the synthesis to achieve exact results."

The theory was put to the test under a variety of scenarios in labs in Germany, France and Switzerland after German plastics researcher Dieter Richter of the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research, a co-author on the paper, approached Guenza after a conference session and said he had unexplained data that might be explained by Guenza's theory. The unexplained data and Guenza's theory merged under examination, which included the use of neutron spin-echo spectroscopy, a high-energy resolution-scattering technique.

"If you look at just one polymer, as is the case under conventional theory, you don't see any anomalous motion," said Guenza, whose research is funded by the National Science Foundation and the Petroleum Research Fund. "You don't see slowing one molecule alternating between slow and fast motion. Only if you treat the dynamics of a group of molecules together can you predict anomalous behaviors. That's what my theory can give you."

The theory now is being applied to other experiments to test its application to other anomalies, said Guenza, who is a member of three UO interdisciplinary institutes: the Institute of Theoretical Science; the Materials Science Institute and the Institute of Molecular Biology.

Co-authors of the paper with Guenza and Richter were Richter's colleagues M. Zamponi, A. Wischnewski, M. Monkenbusch and L. Willner, and researchers P. Falus and B. Farago, both of the Institut Laue-Langevin, a leading international neutron research center in Grenoble, France.

About the University of Oregon
The University of Oregon is a world-class teaching and research institution and Oregon's flagship public university. The UO is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), an organization made up of 62 of the leading public and private research institutions in the U.S. and Canada. The University of Oregon is one of only two AAU members in the Pacific Northwest.

Source: Marina Guenza, associate professor, department of chemistry, 541-346-2877, mguenza@uoregon.edu

Links: Guenza faculty Web page: http://www.uoregon.edu/~chem/guenza.html; department of chemistry: http://www.uoregon.edu/~chem/

Jim Barlow | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.uoregon.edu

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht New pop-up strategy inspired by cuts, not folds
27.02.2017 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

nachricht Let it glow
27.02.2017 | Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New pop-up strategy inspired by cuts, not folds

27.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Sandia uses confined nanoparticles to improve hydrogen storage materials performance

27.02.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

Decoding the genome's cryptic language

27.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>