In developing a new technique to create polymers (large molecules that are composed of smaller, structured molecules), Japanese scientists have opened the door for the creation of environmentally-friendly plastic. These scientific researchers were able to gain control over molecular weight (crucial to the formation of plastic) using two pre-existing techniques called “living cationic polymerization” and “asymmetric cationic polymerization.” This novel strategy allowed them to manipulate benzofuran, a naturally-derived precursor to a polymer that is chemically recyclable, heat resistant and transparent. “While polybenzofuran is not used as a commercially available plastic, it has a stiffer molecular structure and a higher glass transition temperature than polystyrene. We see it being used as a new plastic with good thermal properties,” says Mineto Uchiyama, a researcher from the study and lecturer at the Graduate School of Engineering at Nagoya University. Read more about the innovation at Phys.org.
Image courtesy of Journal of the American Chemical Society 2022