Chemistry of the Euro2016 Ball

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If, like me, you’re getting hooked on the Euro 2016 football tournament, you might be interested in the chemistry of the Euro2016 football! This graphic, put together by Compound Interest, outlines the detailed materials chemistry which goes into footballs for such occasions.

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Plastic Material Can Heal Itself

This article on the Nature News website describes an astounding new material which is able to heal holes of up to 1 cm in itself.

The polymeric material is made up of two different liquids which mix together to form a hard plastic. The team of researchers, from the University of Illinois, drew inspiration from the human body’s network of veins and arteries to create channels in plastic which could contain one of the liquids. When the plastic was damaged, these channels were cracked, and the liquids were able to mix and solidify, ‘healing’ the damage.

So far, the material takes 20 minutes to heal the space, and 3 hours to harden, but the team are working on improving their process so that the healing occurs at a faster rate.

This work really is a great combination of chemistry and mechanical engineering and, once optimised, could find its place in a huge range of applications. It’s early days for these materials, but this result is a great step forward.

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Featured Journal – Macromolecules

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The latest featured journal to be featured is something a bit more specific – Macromolecules. With polymers being one of the most industrially-relevant areas of chemistry, research in this area is more active than ever. Macromolecules covers all areas of macromolecular and polymer science and has an impact factor of 5.521, making it the go to journal for polymer chemists everywhere.

The journal looks for original research in polymer synthesis, mechanisms, kinetics, characteristics and properties, giving a broad view of what’s going on in this area of chemistry right now. The articles are presented as full papers, communications or technical notes.

You can find the latest issue of Macromolecules here, but you may need a subscription to view all of the content.

In Macromolecules today:

“From Molecular Structure to Macromolecular Organization: Keys to Design Supramolecular Biomaterials”

Hydrogen bonding motifs have often been used to great effect to influence the properties of polymers, and here a monomer is used which is able to form four hydrogen bonds to give nanofibre-like aggregates. The hope of this work is that these fibres can be used as new supramolecular biomaterials, in applications such as artificial kidneys. Different annealing temperatures of the product led to polymers with different supramolecular structures, which greatly affected the cell activity, and so gave tremendous insight into how such materials should be processed in order to give more desirable properties. This is a key example of how the structure on the macroscopic scale can greatly affect the properties of a material, even if the chemical makeup is identical.

“Mechanoresponsive Healable Metallosupramolecular Polymers”

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For a bit of something different, this paper describes a polymer containing a tridentate ligand. This is then able to bind to zinc ions, forming a metallosupramolecular polymer with incredible properties. The supramolecular structure of the final polymer gives it high strength and toughness, which is useful in itself. Moreover, they are able to ‘self-heal’ – if the material is cut, scratched or broken, applying a solvent allows it to reform and regain its mechanical properties. This is a really exciting and intriguing piece of chemistry, and could lead to a new generation of advanced materials.

“Structure and Ferroelectric Properties of Nanoimprinted Poly(vinylidene fluoride-ran-trifluoroethylene”

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There is a lot of work being done at the minute attempting to create devices which can have their electrical properties ‘switched’ on and off. Traditional ferroelectric materials are inorganic in nature, but polymeric organic materials are highly desirable due to their flexibility and easy processibility. Here, nanoimprinting is used to give a material which can have its ferroelectric switched on and off. This is intriguing chemistry, and could lead to the formation of new all-organic flexible electronic devices.

“Solution Properties and Potential Biological Applications of Zwitterionic Poly(N-methacrylolyl-L-lysine”

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This is interesting polymer chemistry which differs a little from the norm. as it involves the synthesis of highly hydrophilic zwitterionic polymers. Using traditional free radical polymerisation, a polymer featuring an N-methacrylolyl-L-lysine backbone is synthesised, which is an ideal candidate for biological applications as it has high solubility in aqueous media, is non-toxic and doesn’t form aggregates in human tissue. Furthermore, it has a tendency to bind to divalent cations, which can help to form a net cationic charge, allowing for binding to plasmid-DNA. This high level of bio-compatibility really opens doors for the use of these materials in human systems!

Polymers are still as attractive as ever for chemists and materials scientists alike, as there is a plethora of uses and applications that they could have. Macromolecules showcases a range of new polymer research, and is definitely worth keeping a regular eye on if you have an interest in this topic!

 

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