Thermoplastic Elastomers and Gels Based on Subcomponent Metallosupramolecular Assembly

Applications

This technology is an advancement in elastomer engineering that has applications in improving the mechanical properties of rubbery networks while at the same time imbuing them with nanoporous featrues that could be leveraged for gas separations, water purification, or catalysis.  

Problem Addressed

Most polymeric materials are either non-porous or non-flexible/elastic. Elastomers that also feature nanoscale porosity would open new avenues for the design of processable and elastic rubbers that that also have porosity. Currently, these two features (elasticity/toughness and porosity) are typically inversely related. This technology provides a new synthesis technique for materials that enables the introduction of nano-scale porosity into tough elastomers. 

Technology

This technology is a hybrid of two established nanomaterial technologies: di-block copolymers (BCP), and metal organic nanostructures (MONs). These combined block co-polymer-(MON) conjugates (BCPMONs) feature unique hierarchical structures, and the physical properties of the resulting thermoplastic elastomers or gels can be precisely tuned by combining different MON or BCP structures. The BCPMONS can be assembled in a two-step process. Firstly, the BCP polymer arms are assembled around MON cores to yield star polymers with a defined number of arms. Secondly, the star polymers undergo physical cross-linking between the BCP polymer arms to yield a polymer with a complex network of both amorphous polymer and well-defined MON junctions. The diverse MON and BCP structures already available mean that this technology provides tremendous opportunities to develop new BCPMONs with novel properties.

Advantages

  • Tunable viscoelastic properties and porosity within the same material
  • Variety of novel materials by using the multitude of existing BCP and MON compounds
  • Thermoplastic behavior
  • Greater storage life over conventional metal-organic polyhedral and frameworks