Scientists leverage a novel polymer interlocking mechanism to provide robust but additive-free latex movies — ScienceDaily

Artificial latex movies are broadly used throughout many fields, however they often include dangerous components to boost their power. In a current examine, researchers from Japan have developed a brand new class of latex movies composed of rotaxane-crosslinked acrylic nanoparticles. These movies exhibit exceptional mechanical properties, together with wonderful crack-propagation resistance with none components, and are simply recyclable, paving the way in which for extra environmentally pleasant supplies.

Artificial polymer supplies, reminiscent of plastics and rubbers, have change into ubiquitous in our each day lives. It’s, due to this fact, important to make sure that they’re secure, sturdy, and sustainable. That is very true for artificial latex movies, that are broadly utilized in packaging, biomedicine, and electronics.

However what precisely are artificial latex movies? Merely put, they’re a sort of nanoparticle-based movies which are produced by drying out a mix of polymer nanoparticles and water. Because the solvent evaporates, the nanoparticles change into extra packed till lastly the interactions between polymer chains on the boundaries of nanoparticles create a coherent movie. Sadly, the latex movies produced this fashion are weak. Typically, natural solvents and fillers should be added to the preliminary combination to enhance the mechanical properties of the ultimate product. These components will not be solely costly but in addition dangerous to the setting.

Fortuitously, a crew of researchers from Japan, led by Affiliate Professor Daisuke Suzuki from Shinshu College, just lately developed an modern option to produce robust and crack-resistant elastic nanoparticle-based latex movies with out utilizing such components. Their work, made out there on-line on 16 June 2023 and revealed in Quantity 39, Situation 26 of the Langmuir journal on 4 July 2023, included contributions from Yuma Sasaki from Shinshu College and Professor Toshikazu Takata from Hiroshima College.

The important thing to their method was a novel molecular construction generally known as rotaxane, which contains two primary parts — a ring-like molecule and a linear “axle” molecule. The ring-like molecule is threaded via the axle molecule, which turns into mechanically trapped thereafter owing to the form of the axle terminations.

The researchers leveraged this interlocking mechanism in rotaxane by making the ring-like molecule chemically bind to at least one polymer chain and the axle molecule to a different chain. Subsequent, they ready mixtures of water and polymer nanoparticles via customary ultrasonication and subsequent polymerization that, in flip, have been used to provide latex movies. The stretching experiments carried out on these movies revealed that the rotaxane-based technique resulted in some exceptional properties. “In distinction to standard nanoparticle-based elastic polymers, the latex movies composed of the rotaxane-crosslinked nanoparticles exhibited uncommon crack propagation conduct,” explains Dr. Suzuki. “The route of crack propagation modified from being parallel to the crack to at least one perpendicular to the crack, leading to an elevated tear resistance.

The brand new method to creating latex movies provides many benefits over typical strategies. Most significantly, no poisonous components are wanted to realize affordable movie toughness. Furthermore, since solely a tiny quantity of rotaxane is required, the whole weight of the movies will be saved low whereas preserving flexibility. The proposed latex movies are sustainable as nicely. “They’re degradable and will be simply disassembled into particular person nanoparticles by merely soaking them in an environmentally pleasant natural solvent, reminiscent of an aqueous ethanol resolution,” highlights Dr. Suzuki. “These nanoparticles can then type a movie once more upon evaporation of the answer. The findings of this analysis can thus assist create extremely sturdy and recyclable supplies.

General, the crew expects their work to broaden the scope for the design of latest polymer movies with out components. Such supplies might thus be made biocompatible, with potential functions in biotechnology and medication along with packaging, industrial coatings, and adhesives.

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