Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Synthetic rubber


Chain alignment can significantly influence the macroscopic properties of a polymeric material, but no general and versatile methodology has yet been reported to obtain highly ordered crystalline packing of polymer chains, with high stability. Here, we disclose a strategy that relies on ‘ordered crosslinks’ to produce polymeric materials that exhibit a crystalline arrangement. Divinyl crosslinkers (2,5-divinyl-terephthalate) were first embedded, as substitutional ligands, into the structure of a porous coordination polymer (PCP), [Cu(terephthalate)triethylenediamine0.5]n. A representative vinyl monomer, styrene, was subsequently polymerized inside the channels of the host PCP. The polystyrene chains that form within the PCP channels also crosslink with the divinyl species. This bridges together the polymer chains of adjacent channels and ensures that, on selective removal of the PCP, the polymer chains remain aligned. Indeed, the resulting material exhibits long-range order and is stable to thermal and solvent treatments, as demonstrated by X-ray powder diffraction and transmission electron microscopy.

Concepts: Diffraction, Polymer, Polymer chemistry, Monomer, Polystyrene, Elastomer, Cross-link, Synthetic rubber


Because tires contain approximately 1-2% zinc by weight, zinc leaching is an environmental concern associated with civil engineering applications of tire crumb rubber. An assessment of zinc leaching data from 14 studies in the published literature indicates that increasing zinc leaching is associated with lower pH and longer leaching times, but the data display a wide range of zinc concentrations, and do not address the effect of crumb rubber size or the dynamics of zinc leaching during flow through porous crumb rubber. The present study was undertaken to investigate the effect of crumb rubber size using the Synthetic Precipitation Leaching Procedure (SPLP), the effect of exposure time using quiescent batch leaching tests, and the dynamics of zinc leaching using column tests. Results indicate that zinc leaching from tire crumb rubber increases with smaller crumb rubber and longer exposure time. Results from SPLP and quiescent batch leaching tests are interpreted with a single-parameter leaching model that predicts a constant rate of zinc leaching up to 96 hr. Breakthrough curves from column tests displayed an initial pulse of elevated zinc concentration (~3 mg/L) before settling down to a steady-state value (~0.2 mg/L), and were modeled with the software package HYDRUS-1D. Washing crumb rubber reduces this initial pulse but does not change the steady-state value. No leaching experiment significantly reduced the reservoir of zinc in the crumb rubber.

Concepts: Time, Concentration, Shutter speed, Synthetic rubber, Vulcanization, The Crumbs, Tire, Crumb rubber


Invented by Charles Goodyear, chemical cross-linking of rubbers by sulphur vulcanisation is the only method by which modern automobile tyres are manufactured. The formation of these cross-linked network structures leads to highly elastic properties, which substantially reduces the viscous properties of these materials. Here, we describe a simple approach to converting commercially available and widely used bromobutyl rubber (BIIR) into a highly elastic material with extraordinary self-healing properties without using conventional cross-linking or vulcanising agents. Transformation of the bromine functionalities of BIIR into ionic imidazolium bromide groups results in the formation of reversible ionic associates that exhibit physical cross-linking ability. The reversibility of the ionic association facilitates the healing processes by temperature- or stress-induced rearrangements, thereby enabling a fully cut sample to retain its original properties after application of the self-healing process. Other mechanical properties, such as the elastic modulus, tensile strength, ductility, and hysteresis loss, were found to be superior to those of conventionally sulphur-cured BIIR. This simple and easy approach to preparing a commercial rubber with self-healing properties offers unique development opportunities in the field of highly engineered materials, such as tyres, for which safety, performance, and longer fatigue life are crucial factors.

Concepts: Polymer, Engineering, Materials science, Tensile strength, Automobile, Synthetic rubber, Vulcanization, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company


Monitoring of human bodily motion requires wearable sensors which can detect position, velocity and acceleration. They should be cheap, lightweight, and mechanically compliant and display reasonable sensitivity at high strains and strain-rates. No reported material has simultaneously demonstrated all the above requirements. Here we describe a simple method to infuse liquid-exfoliated graphene into natural rubber to create conducting composites. These materials are excellent strain-sensors displaying 104-fold increases in resistance and working at strains exceeding 800%. The sensitivity is reasonably high with gauge factors of up to 35 observed. More importantly, these sensors can effectively track dynamic strain, working well at vibration frequencies of at least 160 Hz. At 60 Hz, we could monitor strains of at least 6% at strain rates exceeding 6000 %/s. We have used these composites as bodily motion sensors, effectively monitoring joint and muscle motion as well and breathing and pulse.

Concepts: Monitoring, Material, Velocity, Motion, Synthetic rubber, Natural rubber, Highly sensitive person, Rubber


Selective degradation of block copolymer templates and backfilling the open mesopores is an effective strategy for the synthesis of nanostructured hybrid and inorganic materials. Incorporation of more than one type of inorganic material in orthogonal ways enables the synthesis of multicomponent nanomaterials with complex yet well-controlled architectures; however, developments in this field have been limited by the availability of appropriate orthogonally degradable block copolymers for use as templates. We report the synthesis and self-assembly into co-continuous network structures of polyisoprene-block-polystyrene-block-poly(propylene carbonate) where the polyisoprene and poly(propylene carbonate) blocks can be orthogonally removed from the polymer film. Through sequential block etching and backfilling the resulting mesopores with different metals, we demonstrate first steps towards the preparation of three-component polymer-inorganic hybrid materials with two distinct metal networks. Multiblock copolymers in which two blocks can be degraded and backfilled independently of each other, without interference from the other, may be used in a wide range of applications requiring periodically ordered complex multicomponent nanoarchitectures.

Concepts: Polymer, Copolymer, Polymer chemistry, Synthetic rubber, Structural unit


A site-selective catalytic incorporation of multiple CO2 molecules into 1,3-dienes en route to adipic acids is described. This protocol is characterized by its mild conditions, excellent chemo- and regioselectivity and ease of execution under CO2 (1 atm), including the use of bulk butadiene and/or isoprene feedstocks.

Concepts: Oxygen, Monomers, Synthetic rubber, Adipic acid


Macromolecules derived from 1,3-dienes, such as polyisoprene (or natural rubber), are of considerable importance in polymer science. Given the parallels between P=C and C=C bonds, the prospect of polymerizing P-containing 1,3-dienes, such as 1- phospha-isoprene, is intriguing due to the unique chemical functionality imparted by the heavier element combined with their structural relationship to natural rubber. Herein, we report the synthesis, characterization and coordination chemistry of the first polymers derived from Mes*P=CR-CH=CH2 (Mes* = 2,4,6-Me3C6H2; R = H, Me). In the case of 1-phospha-isoprene (R = Me), the monomer is isolable and its anionic polymerization affords a polymer that retains P=C bonds in its microstructure. The chemical functionality of these novel materials is demonstrated by forming the macromolecular-gold(I)-complex where the P=C bond is retained for further chemical elaboration.

Concepts: Chemical reaction, Chemistry, Polymer, Polymer chemistry, Chemical substance, Materials science, Synthetic rubber, Natural rubber


Integrating self-healing capability into supramolecular architectures is an interesting strategy, and can considerably enhance the performance and broaden the scope of applications for this important class of polymers. Herein we report the rational design of novel V-shaped barbiturate (Ba) functionalized soft-hard-soft triblock copolymers with a reversible supramolecular healing motif (Ba) in the central part of the hard block, which undergoes autonomic repair at 30 °C. The designed synthesis also offers a suitable macromolecular building block to further self-assemble with heterocomplementary α,ω-Hamilton wedge (HW) functionalized polyisoprene (PI; HW-PI-HW), resulting in an H-shaped supramolecular architecture with efficient self-healing capabilities that can recover up to around 95 % of the original mechanical performance at 30 °C within 24 h.

Concepts: Polymer, Polymer chemistry, Engineering, Construction, The Central, Architecture, Synthetic rubber


Boron subphthalocyanines (BsubPcs) are macrocyclic aromatic small molecules containing a chelated boron atom. BsubPcs have interesting optoelectronic and physical properties, justifying their use in various organic electronic devices such as organic solar cells and organic light-emitting diodes. However, our group has only recently reported the first incorporation of a BsubPc moiety into a polymer using a two-step post-polymerization procedure. This communication outlines the use of acrylic acid as a method for obtaining carboxylic acid functional copolymers for the facile coupling to BsubPc post polymerization. In addition, the observations and the proposed mechanism of a side product unique to the copolymerization of acrylic acid and styrene due to autoinitiation are presented.

Concepts: Protein, Functional group, Polymer, Polymer chemistry, Carboxylic acid, Solar cell, Diode, Synthetic rubber


Novel styryl-substituted thioureas and squaramides were obtained in three steps from commercially available 4-hydroxy-3,5-dichloroaniline. These organocatalysts promote cascade reactions in high yields and excellent stereoselection. By using only 5 mol% loading of catalyst it is possible to obtain 2,3,4-trisubtituted benzopyrans by reaction of α-amidosulfones derived from salicyladehydes and nitrostyrenes, or 2,3,4-trisubstituted 4H-chromenes by reaction of the same α-amidosulfones with phenylsulfonylacetonitrile in excellent diastereo- and enantioselectivities. Two polymeric thiourea and squaramide were prepared by copolymerization of the best monomeric catalysts with styrene and divinylbenzene and used for the same transformations. These polymers behave also as excellent stereoselective catalysts that can be recovered and reused for five cycles.

Concepts: Amino acid, Chemical reaction, Polymer, Copolymer, Polymer chemistry, Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, Synthetic rubber, Structural unit