Research stream IV: Crosslinked and self-healable materials
The design and development of self-healable polymeric networks have been extensively explored. Intrinsic self-healing systems utilize the incorporation of reversible (or dynamic) chemistries into the design of conventional crosslinked networks. The ability of dynamic linkages to undergo reversible dissociation and reconstruction allows for the creation of dynamic networks enabling to adapt their structures and compositions in response to external stimuli or autonomously. Therefore, the intrinsic self-healing systems possess the built-in-ability that can repair damages as cracks and scratches, and thus improve the lifetime and recyclability of the materials.
Our group has put significant efforts to study intrinsic self-healing mechanisms. We have developed a variety of new methods utilizing disulfide and Diels-Alder chemistries to synthesize robust self-healable networks. These networks can be useful as effective building blocks for constructing high-performance materials useful in surface coatings and composites. Our current focus is on the development of dynamic heterogeneous networks, in which hetero domains or nanostructures are covalently or supramolecularly incorporated. This method enables the invididual nanostructures to be uniformly distributed in dynamic networks, thus providing enhanced mechanical properties, while retaining robust self-healing upon mechanical damage. Ultimately, the developed dynamic networks can be used as building blocks for electronic materials for conductors, sensors, E-skins, LED.