Supramolecular Polymer Chemistry
The Supramolecular Polymer Chemistry group aims at developing self-assembly as a tool to create smart materials. The materials derive their functionality from responsivity to molecular or mechanical stimuli and from structure at the nanometer length scale.
Rint Sijbesma graduated cum laude from the Rijksuniversiteit Utrecht in 1987. Until 1992 he worked under supervision of prof. dr. Roeland Nolte at the University of Nijmegen, where he obtained his PhD degree in 1992. Subsequently, he moved to the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) to work as a postdoctoral researcher in the group of prof. Fred Wudl on the organic chemistry of C60 (buckminsterfullerene). In 1993, he joined the group of prof. Bert Meijer as a lecturer and started his work on supramolecular polymers.
The study of mechanically induced chemistry is one of the main activities of the group. Research in this area currently focuses on two themes. In one theme, we aim to control catalytic activity of latent transition metal complexes and organocatalysts through macroscopic mechanical forces. Mechanical activation of polymerization catalysts holds promise as a novel mechanism of self-healing in polymeric materials. The second theme is concerned with mechanically control over optical phenomena. Recently, strong and tunable mechanically induced luminescence has been demonstrated. This phenomenon is currently explored as a tool in the study of mechanical failure of polymeric materials
This activity is part of a coherent, interdisciplinary research program at the TU/e to develop and characterize biocompatible synthetic materials that are mechanically indistinguishable from biological materials; Through the combined approach of chemical synthesis and self-assembly, computational modeling and mechanical characterization, these new materials will serve as a basis for a fundamental physical understanding of the remarkable mechanical behavior of biological materials. The supramolecular chemistry group focuses on the design and synthesis of self-assembled hydrogels that show strain stiffening and on materials that can be used as injectable hydrogels for biomedical applications.
Photopolymerizable liquid crystalline materials with discotic phases are being used to develop responsive and thin films and nanoporous membranes. The focus is on the study of ferroelectric and piezoelectric materials and on the development of nanostructured membranes. Thin films with a high density of monodisperse pores of 1-10 nm in size are being developed.