Self-repairable polymeric networks: Synthesis and network design

Biswajit Ghosh


This dissertation describes the design, synthesis and development of a new class of polymeric networks that exhibit self-repairing properties under UV exposure. It consists of two parts: (a) modification and synthesis of oxetane (OXE), and oxolane (OXO) substituted chitosan (CHI) macromonomer, and (b) design, and synthesis of self-repairing polyurethane (PUR) networks consisting of modified chitosan. Unmodified CHI consisting of acetamide (-NHCOCH3), primary hydroxyl (-OH), and amine (-NH 2 ) functional groups were reacted with OXE or OXO compounds under basic conditions in order to substitute the 1° -OH groups, and at the same time, convert -NHCOCH 3 functionalities into -NH2 groups, while maintaining their un-reacted form to generate OXE/OXO-substituted CHI macromonomer. These substituted CHI macromonomers were incorporated within the PUR backbone by reacting with trifunctional isocyanate in the presence of polyethylene glycol (PEG) and dibutyl tin dilaurate catalyst (DBTDL). Utilizing spectroscopic analysis combined with optical microscopy, these studies showed that the kinetics of self-repair depends on the stoichiometry of the individual entities as well as the time required for self-repairing to occur decrease with increasing OXE quantity within the network. Internal reflection infrared imaging (IRIRI) of OXE/OXO-CHI-PUR networks as well as Raman and Fourier transform IR (FT-IR) studies of OXE/OXO-CHI macromonomers revealed that cationic OXE/OXO ring opening, free radical polyurea (PUA)-to-PUR conversion, along with chair-to-boat conformational changes of CHI backbone are responsible for repairing the damaged network. The network remodeling process, investigated by utilizing micro-thermal analyzer (μTA), revealed that mechanical damage generates small fragments or oligomers within the scratch, therefore glass transition temperature (T g ) decreases, and under UV exposure cross-linking reactions propagate from the bottom of the scratch to the top resulting in an increase of Tg within the scratch and subsequently repair.