Materials Chemistry

Mechanochemical synthesis of inverse vulcanized polymers



Inverse vulcanization, a sustainable platform, can transform an industrial by-product, sulfur, into polymers with broad green applications such as heavy metal capture and recyclable materials. However, the process usually requires high temperatures (≥159 °C), and the crosslinkers needed to stabilise the sulfur are therefore limited to high-boiling-point monomers only. Here, we report an alternative route for inverse vulcanization — mechanochemical synthesis, with advantages of mild conditions (room temperature), short reaction time (3 h), high atom economy, less H2S, and broader monomer range. Successful generation of polymers using crosslinkers ranging from aromatic, aliphatic to volatile, including renewable monomers, demonstrates this method is powerful and versatile. Compared with thermal synthesis, the mechanochemically synthesized products show enhanced mercury capture. The resulting polymers show thermal and light induced recycling. The speed, ease, versatility, safety, and green nature of this process offers a more sustainable future for inverse vulcanisation, and enables further unexpected discoveries.

Version notes

1. A new monomer 2,3-Dimethyl-1,3-butadiene was used for synthesis of inverse vulcanized polymer. Full characterizations of the relevant polymer was carried out. 2. A ceramic mill was used for synthesis of inverse vulcanized polymers. Full characterizations of relevant polymers were carried out (the results are shown in Fig. S26-S33 and Table S5). 3. The comparison of mechanical properties of MS(S-DIB) and TS(S-DIB) was carried out (the results are shown in Figs. S50 and S51 and Table S6). 4. Mercury capture experiment using 10 ppm HgCl2 solution was carried out. 5. References 40, 41, and 42 were added. 6. Temperature monitor during UV-healing experiment was done. 7. Some spelling mistakes were corrected.


Thumbnail image of Manuscript.pdf

Supplementary material

Thumbnail image of supporting information.pdf
Supporting information
Supporting information gives the details of experimental methods and procedures, and gives more data in addition to the data of the content.
Thumbnail image of Supporting information_UV-induced self-healing.mp4
Video supporting information
Video shows how elastic the healed polymer is.