Self-assembled healable materials through a combination of pi-pi stacking and hydrogen bonding
Burattini, S., Colquhoun, H. M., Greenland, B. W., Hayes, W. and Mackay, M. E. (2010) Self-assembled healable materials through a combination of pi-pi stacking and hydrogen bonding. In: Polymeric Materials Science and Engineering, 21-25 March 2010 , San Francisco, California, USA. .
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The discovery of polymers with stimuli responsive physical properties is a rapidly expanding area of research. At the forefront of the field are self-healing polymers, which, when fractured can regain the mechanical properties of the material either autonomically, or in response to a stimulus. It has long been known that it is possible to promote healing in conventional thermoplastics by heating the fracture zone above the Tg of the polymer under pressure. This process requires reptation and subsequent re-entanglement of macromolecules across the fracture void, which serves to bridge, and ‘heal’ the crack. The timescale for this mechanism is highly dependent on the molecular weight of the polymer being studied. This process is in contrast to that required to affect healing in supramolecular polymers such as the plasticised, hydrogen bonded elastomer reported by Leibler et al. The disparity in bond energies between the non-covalent and covalent bonds within supramolecular polymers results in fractures propagating through scission of the comparatively weak supramolecular interactions, rather than through breaking the stronger, covalent bonds. Thus, during the healing process the macromolecules surrounding the fracture site only need sufficient energy to re-engage their supramolecular interactions in order to regenerate the strength of the pristine material. Herein we describe the design, synthesis and optimization of a new class of supramolecular polymer blends that harness the reversible nature of pi-pi stacking and hydrogen bonding interactions to produce self-supporting films with facile healable characteristics.