Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New guide for research on multiblock polymers emerges

Thanks to advances in polymer chemistry and a wide variety of monomer constituents to choose from, the world of multiblock polymers is wide open.

These polymers can result in an astonishing array of materials, customizable to almost any specification. However, the flood of options could be overwhelming, without a theoretical framework to guide research. UC Santa Barbara scientists Glenn Fredrickson and Kris Delaney address that issue in their paper, "Multiblock Polymers: Panacea or Pandora's Box?" The paper appears in the latest edition of the journal Science.

The variety of monomers that can be used to construct multiblock polymers can yield a multitude of materials with different properties.
Credit: Peter Allen

Polymers are large molecules comprised of repeating sequences of monomers. When more than one monomer type is present and the dissimilar monomers are organized and chemically bound into "blocks," the resulting multiblock polymers can serve as the basis for a multitude of materials, to be used in applications as diverse as tennis shoes and solar cells. Since the genesis of polymer science in the 1950's, when scientists had only limited numbers of monomers, and, methods to choose from in creating multiblock polymers, the field has expanded. Scientists may now create materials using monomers from a variety of sources, from petroleum to renewable feedstocks such as sugar or cellulose.

"The Pandora's box is that you have so many monomers that you can put together and in so many block sequences," said Fredrickson, a professor of chemical engineering, explaining that the properties will vary according to sequence and by virtue of the interactions among the blocks. Because multiblock copolymers can "self-assemble" into nanometer-sized domains, these materials can exhibit remarkable combinations of properties, such as soft, strong, and elastic –– as in tennis shoe soles or skateboard wheels. For higher-tech applications, the researchers are currently partnering with the company Intel to develop multiblock polymers that will enable patterning of microelectronic devices at finer scales and lower cost.

The problem, say Fredrickson and Delaney, a project scientist in the Department of Engineering, has become the sheer number of possible combinations for these monomers. There are now so many, that choosing what multiblock polymer to make –– and what monomers to make it from –– has become an issue.

"It is a counting problem," said Fredrickson, referring to the potential for millions of different polymers that could be created with today's chemistry, a number that increases by leaps and bounds for every new block and monomer species added to the selection.

The researchers, who also include scientists from the University of Minnesota and the University of Texas, suggest an approach that addresses materials performance needs by combining predictive computer simulation methods with advanced synthetic and structural characterization tools.

"Our simulation methods for predicting the self-assembled structures of multiblock polymers are quite advanced, and we are getting better at relating those nano-structures to the properties of the material," said Fredrickson. "Multiblock polymers are extremely versatile –– there is enormous latitude of design freedom, and it's very promising in terms of developing materials with truly unique properties."

Sonia Fernandez | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>