The demand for polymeric materials continue to expand as their unique properties are unraveled. Conventional synthetic routes bias how we think about fabrication methods and restricts the design process. In this talk, we will discuss 3 case studies that will highlight non-traditional approaches in fabricating polymeric materials. 1) Majority of organic polymers are produced by chain growth polymerization where drawbacks include rate-limiting initiation steps, and incorporation of initiator- or endgroups into the polymer. We demonstrate the application of solvated free electrons as pendant-free, room temperature rapid polymerization initiators, which offer a high turn-over pathway to complex blockpolymer architectures. 2) Coordination polymers, on the other hand, are conventionally synthesized by solvothermal reactions, which require well-tuned precursors and often harsh reaction conditions. We demonstrate that these materials can be synthesized under ambient conditions using metal particles as an ion reservoir with appropriate complexing agents. 3) Mechanically responsive materials have been typically achieved using stress induced/triggered cross-linking and polymerization, which suffer under non-ideal reaction conditions. Composites loaded with undercooled liquid metal particles (ST3R composite) offer an unprecedented advantage whereby instantaneous stiffening is be achieved through solidification of the metal upon mechanical deformation.
Boyce Chang is a 3rd year PhD candidate in Materials Science and Engineering at Iowa State University, under the supervision of Prof. Martin Thuo. His research emphasizes on the fabrication of polymeric materials using unconventional methods including polyolefins, coordination polymers, composites and cellulose. He has 20+ publications including peer reviewed articles, patents and conference presentations. He originates from the nearby city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which for better or worst inspired his “unconventional” ways.