Synthetic polymers have become indispensable for modern life and the global economy. However, the manufacturing and disposal of most of today's polymers follow a linear economy model, which has caused accelerated depletion of finite natural resources, severe worldwide plastics pollution, and enormous materials value loss. The design of future circular polymers considers closed-loop lifecycles toward a circular economy. A key challenge of this promising design includes innovation in monomer structure that could enable not only efficient polymerization to polymers with properties comparable to today's polymers but also selective depolymerization to recover the monomers with high yield and purity. However, these contrasting properties are conflicting in a single monomer structure. This work introduces a hybrid monomer design concept that hybridizes contrasting parent monomer structures to an offspring monomer that can unify conflicting (de)polymerizability and performance properties.
Bibliographical noteKAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2021-03-26
Acknowledgements: This work was supported in part by Colorado State University (CSU) and by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO), and Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO). This work was performed as part of the BOTTLE Consortium, which includes members from CSU, and funded under contract number DE-AC36-08GO28308 with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, operated by Alliance for Sustainable Energy. The computational study used the resources of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology Super-Computing Laboratory (KSL). C.S. and E.Y.-X.C. conceived the idea and designed the experiments. C.S. carried out the experiments, and L.F. and L. Cavallo performed and analyzed the DFT calculations. C.S. L.F. and E.Y.-X.C. co-wrote the manuscript, and all authors participated in data analysis and discussions and read and edited the manuscript. E.Y.-X.C. directed the project. E.Y.-X.C. and C.S. are inventors on a U.S. provisional application submitted by Colorado State University Research Foundation, which covers the herein described polymers. All other authors declare no competing interests.