Researchers at the University of Tokyo have successfully created “sustainable plastic,” which is based on an epoxy resin vitrimer.
- These represent a relatively recent category of plastics known for their impressive strength at low temperatures.
- They also possess the unique ability to be reshaped numerous times when exposed to higher temperatures.
- It is also partially biodegradable.
- Nonetheless, they do have a notable drawback - extreme brittleness, as they cannot be stretched far before breaking.
- To address this issue, researchers introduced a molecule called polyrotaxane into the plastic synthesis process, resulting in a novel plastic variant they've dubbed VPR, an abbreviation for "vitrimer incorporated with polyrotaxane."
- VPR is over five times as resistant to breaking as a typical epoxy resin vitrimer.
- At a high temperature of around 150 degrees Celsius, VPR start to recombine, allowing the material to take on different forms.
- It also repairs itself 15 times as fast, can recover its original memorised shape twice as fast and can be chemically recycled 10 times as fast as the typical vitrimer.
- It even biodegrades safely in a marine environment, which is new for this material.
Q1) What is polyrotaxane?
A polyrotaxane is a type of mechanically interlocked molecule or supramolecular structure. It consists of one or more linear polymer chains threaded through a ring-shaped molecule. This arrangement resembles a threaded nut on a bolt, where the linear polymer chain represents the bolt, and the ring-shaped molecule represents the nut.