Recyclable polymers

    The wide use of polymer materials leads to the production of a large number of waste plastics. These waste plastics accumulate in the environment, which not only seriously pollutes the ecology, but also become the carrier of toxic substances and damage human health through the food chain and drinking water. Therefore, we hope that the materials can be recycled after being discarded. Previously, researchers  introduced reversible covalent bonds or non covalent weak interactions into the polymer skeleton to obtain degradable and recycled materials. However, it is difficult to obtain materials with high mechanical strength by non covalent weak interaction, while materials obtained by reversible covalent bond often need to be realized at high temperature or with the addition of catalyst. The added catalyst may degrade or leach over time, resulting in the loss of reversibility of the material. In addition, due to the reactive chain end free radicals promoted by heating, reprocessing the material at high temperature usually leads to side reactions, resulting in the decline of the performance of the final product.

    Our goal is to solve these problems through coordination chemistry. On one hand, the reaction between metal ions and ligands is spontaneous, so the addition of catalyst can be avoided, which is effective to inhibiting the side reactions in the process of reprocessing and recovery. On the other hand, metal ions can also act as catalysts to crack and exchange some chemical bonds in polymers, so as to promote their degradation and recycling.


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