Research & Vision

"Exploit adaptive polymers to render materials renewable"

Although plastics have defined the modern era, a lack of innovative schemes regarding their end of life has had disastrous environmental and public health consequences. Anticipating predicted increases in plastic consumption, there is a critical need for the development of initiatives that address plastic pollution. 

 

Responsive adaptive polymers, that can change their properties in a predictable manner in response to an external stimulus (e.g. temperature, light, chemical changes, force, magnetic/electric field), are an emerging class of materials that can fill this circular critical need and provide a universal approach to render plastics renewable.

The Calvino group vision focuses on the development of light-mediated adaptive polymers that incorporate advantageous photoswitchable motifs to improve controlled reprocessing, reshaping, and repairing processes. In such systems, the irradiation of light triggers molecular reactions that enable a controlled and permanent breaking/forming of the macromolecular chains, ultimately permitting the polymer reuse.

In this research the group seeks to explore the fundamentals of light-mediated responsive motifs at the molecular level (in solution) to transpose efficiently these motifs into solid state (in bulk). To understand the influence of the molecular mechanistic on the light-mediated phase transition of the materials, these motifs will be investigated in a systematic manner starting with simple organic compounds to more complex systems such as molecular blends, linear polymers, and polymer networks. This program will allow a systematic progression towards the incorporation of photo-responsive functional groups into different polymer architecture through different conceptual approaches that enable reprocessing.