Drexel Materials researchers from Assistant Professor Andrew Magenau’s Macromolecular Materials Group have developed an efficient chemical reaction by which one polymer substrate, composed of repeat units like beads on a necklace, can become any one of several different thousand potential materials. By tweaking reaction conditions, made to order functional polymer groups with many different applications can be created.
As recently reported in the journal Macromolecules, this discovery gives researchers an extraordinary opportunity to study fundamental questions in polymer science. They can create a set of compounds that are similar but have slight differences and effectively measure how those slight differences affect a variety of material properties, such as optical properties, strength, flexibility, or toughness.
Additionally, this opens the door to a wide variety of synthetic routes for making complex, controlled architectures at the nanoscale which can serve as the basis for critical innovations such as advanced membranes for water filtration or next generation electrical devices.