Via the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology:
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The KIT group headed by Christopher Barner-Kowollik uses the possibility of crosslinking functionalized fibers or small molecules by a reversible chemical reaction for the production of self-healing materials. These so-called switchable networks can be decomposed into their initial constituents and reassembled again after the damage. The advantage is that the self-healing mechanism can be initiated any time by heat, light or by the addition of a chemical substance. “Our method does not need any catalyst, no additive is required,” Professor Barner-Kowollik says. The holder of the Chair for Preparative Macromolecular Chemistry at KIT studies syntheses of macromolecular chemical compounds.
It took about four years of research for the working group of Barner-Kowollik, together with the Project House Composites of Creavis, the strategic innovation unit of Evonik, to develop a novel polymer network. At comparably low temperatures from 50°C to 120°C, the network exhibits excellent healing properties within a few minutes.