Recyclable, Malleable, and Strong Thermosets Enabled by Knoevenagel Adducts

Sheng Wang,Hongzhi Feng,Jason Y. C. Lim,Ke Li,Bofan Li, Justin J. Q. Mah, Zhenxiang Xing,Jin Zhu, Xian Jun Loh,Zibiao Li

JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY(2024)

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摘要
Plastic recycling is critical for waste management and achieving a circular economy, but it entails difficult trade-offs between performance and recyclability. Here, we report a thermoset, poly(alpha-cyanocinnamate) (PCC), synthesized using Knoevenagel condensation between terephthalaldehyde (TPA) and a triarm cyanoacetate star, that tackles this difficulty by harnessing its intrinsically conjugated and dynamic chemical characteristics. PCCs exhibit extraordinary thermal and mechanical properties with a typical T-g of similar to 178 degrees C, Young's modulus of 3.8 GPa, and tensile strength of 102 MPa, along with remarkable flexibility and dimensional and chemical stabilities. Furthermore, end-of-life PCCs can be selectively degraded and partially recycled back into one starting monomer TPA for a new production cycle or reprocessed through dynamic exchange aided by cyanoacetate chain-ends. This study lays the scientific groundwork for the design of robust and recyclable thermosets, with transformative potential in plastic engineering.
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