Self-Repairing Oxetane-Substituted Chitosan Polyurethane Networks
Originally published in Science 13 March 2009: Vol. 323 no. 5920 pp. 1458-1460
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Polyurethanes have many properties that qualify them as high-performance polymeric materials, but they still suffer from mechanical damage. We report the development of polyurethane networks that exhibit self-repairing characteristics upon exposure to ultraviolet light. The network consists of an oxetane-substituted chitosan precursor incorporated into a two-component polyurethane. Upon mechanical damage of the network, four-member oxetane rings open to create two reactive ends. When exposed to ultraviolet light, chitosan chain scission occurs, which forms crosslinks with the reactive oxetane ends, thus repairing the network. These materials are capable of repairing themselves in less than an hour and can be used in many coatings applications, ranging from transportation to packaging or fashion and biomedical industries.