Our research goal is to design polymers with new capabilities – ones that autonomously improve their performance as a response to distinct energy inputs. In the past, it was almost universally understood that excess energy degrades polymers. For example, UV rays in sunlight can degrade polymers or mechanical force can cleave polymer chains. Our research program will use mechanical energy to strengthen polymeric materials instead.
Specifically, we are designing polymers that can undergo self-strengthening when they experience mechanical force. To achieve this we will develop mechano-responsive polymers that, under mechanical activation, will promote the formation of new polymeric structures. We will use these mechano-responsive polymers to fabricate force-activated polymeric adhesives (useful in additive manufacturing), develop force-activated polymeric foams that are deployed after mechanical impact (useful in automotive and defense sectors), and promote force-activated self-healing in polymers (useful to extend lifetime of consumer plastics).
Ultrasound Promoted Step Growth Polymerization and Polymer Crosslinking Via Copper Catalyzed Azide Alkyne Click Reaction by Mohapatra H., Ayarza J. , Sanders E. C., Angelique S. M., Griffin P. J., Esser-kahn A. P. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 130 11378-11382 (2018)
Mechanically Controlled Radical Polymerization Initiated by Ultrasound by Mohapatra H., Kleiman M. , Esser-kahn A. P. Nature Chemistry 9 135-139 (2017)
Cooperative CO2 Absorption Isotherms from a Bifunctional Guanidine and Bifunctional Alcohol by Steinhardt R., Hiew S. C., Mohapatra H. , Nguyen D. , Oh Z. , Truong R. , Esser-kahn A. P. ACS Central Science 3 1271-1275 (2017)
Stimuli-Responsive Polymer Film that Autonomously Translates a Molecular Detection Event into a Macroscopic Change in Its Optical Properties via a Continuous, Thiol-Mediated Self-Propagating Reaction by Mohapatra H., Kim H. , Phillips S. T. Journal of the American Chemical Society 137 12498-12501 (2015)
Rapid, On-Command Debonding of Stimuli-Responsive Cross-Linked Adhesives by Continuous, Sequential Quinone Methide Elimination Reactions by Kim H., Mohapatra H. , Phillips S. T. Angewandte Chemie - International Edition 54 13063-13067 (2015)
Design, Synthesis, and Characterization of Small-Molecule Reagents That Cooperatively Provide Dual Readouts for Triaging and, When Necessary, Quantifying Point-of-Need Enzyme Assays by Brook A. D., Mohapatra H. , Phillips S. T. Journal of Organic Chemistry 80 10437-10445 (2015)
Mechanical Force-induced Polymerization using Mechanophores to Initiate Constructive Reactions in Polymeric Materials ISIRD, SRIC