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Hydrolytically Stable and Thermo-Mechanically Tunable Poly(Urethane) Thermoset Networks that Selectively Degrade and Generate Reusable Molecules

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journal contribution
posted on 03.05.2022, 15:10 authored by Keith B. Sutyak, Erick B. Iezzi, Grant C. Daniels, Eugene Camerino
Cross-linked polymeric networks that possess tunable properties and degrade on-demand have broad applications in today’s society. Herein, we report on silyl-containing poly­(urethane) (silyl-PU) thermoset networks, which are highly cross-linked stimuli-responsive materials with hydrolytic stability at 37.7 °C and 95% relative humidity, thermal stability of 280–311.2 °C, tensile properties of 0.38–51.7 MPa strength and 73.7–256.4% elongation, including storage modulus of 2268–3499 MPa (in the glassy state). However, unlike traditional (i.e., nondegradable) PU thermosets, these silyl-PUs selectively activate with fluoride ion under mild and static conditions to completely degrade, via cascading bond cleavages, and generate recoverable and reusable molecules. Silyl-PUs, as thin films, also demonstrated complete removal (within 30 min) from a strongly adhered epoxy thermoset network without altering the structure of the latter. Silyl-PU thermosets have potential applications in composite parts, vehicle and industrial coatings, and rigid plastics for personal devices, and may reduce environmental waste compared to nondegradable, single-use materials.