A method for quickly synthesizing a self-healing polymer gel composed of ultrahigh molecular weight (UHMW) polymers polymers with a molecular weight more than 106 g/mol and non-volatile ionic liquids has been created by a research team from NIMS, Hokkaido University, and Yamaguchi University.
The ideas of the circular economy are compatible with this recyclable and self-healing polymer gel. It could also be utilized as a tough, ionically conductive material for stretchable IoT devices.
Self-healing polymeric materials have the ability to repair damaged portions on their own, lengthening their material lives and, as a result, boosting their potential to support a circular economy.
In recent years, chemical methods have been used to create the majority of reported self-healing polymeric materials. In these methods, functional groups capable of reversible dissociation and reformation (for example, hydrogen bonding) were included into polymeric networks.
However, this strategy frequently calls for intricate production procedures and accurate synthetic techniques. However, a different physical strategy (i.e., the application of physical entanglement of polymer chains) to the synthesis of adaptable polymeric materials with self-healing properties had only seldom been investigated.
Ionic liquids have recently been used by this research group to easily synthesize UHMW gels made of entangled UHMW polymers. UHMW gels were discovered to have better mechanical characteristics than traditional, chemically crosslinked gels. In addition, they have significant self-healing capacities at room temperature and can be recycled through thermal processing.
A circular economy is anticipated to be supported by the usage of the recently invented UHMW gel material, which is recyclable, self-healing, and simple to synthesis. This material can also be utilized as a secure, ionically conductive soft material in flexible electronics because it was created utilizing non-volatile, combustible ionic liquids.