Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Future of Plastics: Designing Tomorrow's Sustainable Polymer

Date:
December 12, 2008
Source:
University of Oregon
Summary:
Tomorrow's specialty plastics may be produced more precisely and cheaply thanks to the apparently tight merger of a theory by a chemist and years of unexplained data from real world experiments involving polymers in Europe.

Marina Guenza, theoretical chemist at the University of Oregon.
Credit: Photo by Jim Barlow

Tomorrow's specialty plastics may be produced more precisely and cheaply thanks to the apparently tight merger of a theory by a University of Oregon chemist and years of unexplained data from real world experiments involving polymers in Europe.

The work, which researchers believe may lead to a new class of materials, is described in a paper appearing in the Dec. 18 issue of the Journal of Physical Chemistry B (online Dec. 11). The findings eventually could prove useful in the fields of engineering, nanotechnology, renewable energy and, potentially, medicine, because proteins, DNA, RNA and other large molecules within cells may well move in the same way as those in plastics.

Traditional theory behind the processing of plastic materials since the 1960s has focused on the movement of individual macromolecules as they move by one another. Materials researchers, under this approach, end up with poorly understood products and unexplained data. The new theory of cooperative motion in liquids of polymers successfully explains these observations by considering the coordinated motion of macromolecules with their surrounding neighbors. The end result could remove guesswork and the costly, time-consuming testing of thousands of samples at various stages of production.

"The level of agreement between the data and the theory is remarkable," said Marina G. Guenza, a professor of theoretical physical chemistry at the UO. "We are making the connection between the chemistry of molecules and how they behave. It is really fundamental science. Our findings are exciting for experimentalists because we can see phenomena that they cannot understand. This theory is now explaining what is happening inside their samples. They are no longer dealing with just a set of data; our theory provides a picture of what is happening."

Guenza simplifies her mathematics-heavy theory -- built on Langevin equations that describe the movement of particles in liquid or gas -- to watching students disembark from a crowded bus. Any one student wanting to exit is stuck in place -- or meanders randomly in available spaces -- until other students begin moving toward the exit. As students organize into a group they become coordinated and speed their departure.

The theory addresses the often-seen subdiffusive behavior of molecules as they begin to form a glass under processing -- explaining why molecules slow and freeze into disorganized structures rather than ordering into a crystal, Guenza said. "We would really like to be able to control the properties of the material so that we can tailor the synthesis to achieve exact results."

The theory was put to the test under a variety of scenarios in labs in Germany, France and Switzerland after German plastics researcher Dieter Richter of the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research, a co-author on the paper, approached Guenza after a conference session and said he had unexplained data that might be explained by Guenza's theory. The unexplained data and Guenza's theory merged under examination, which included the use of neutron spin-echo spectroscopy, a high-energy resolution-scattering technique.

"If you look at just one polymer, as is the case under conventional theory, you don't see any anomalous motion," said Guenza, whose research is funded by the National Science Foundation and the Petroleum Research Fund. "You don't see slowing one molecule alternating between slow and fast motion. Only if you treat the dynamics of a group of molecules together can you predict anomalous behaviors. That's what my theory can give you."

The theory now is being applied to other experiments to test its application to other anomalies, said Guenza, who is a member of three UO interdisciplinary institutes: the Institute of Theoretical Science; the Materials Science Institute and the Institute of Molecular Biology.

Co-authors of the paper with Guenza and Richter were Richter's colleagues M. Zamponi, A. Wischnewski, M. Monkenbusch and L. Willner, and researchers P. Falus and B. Farago, both of the Institut Laue-Langevin, a leading international neutron research center in Grenoble, France.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Oregon. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Oregon. "Future of Plastics: Designing Tomorrow's Sustainable Polymer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 December 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081211093557.htm>.
University of Oregon. (2008, December 12). Future of Plastics: Designing Tomorrow's Sustainable Polymer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081211093557.htm
University of Oregon. "Future of Plastics: Designing Tomorrow's Sustainable Polymer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081211093557.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

AP (July 24, 2014) TSA administrator, John Pistole's took part in the Aspen Security Forum 2014, where he answered questions on lifting of the ban on flights into Israel's Tel Aviv airport and whether politics played a role in lifting the ban. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

TheStreet (July 23, 2014) When The Deal's Amanda Levin exclusively reported that Gas Natural had been talking to potential suitors, the Ohio company responded with a flat denial, claiming its board had not talked to anyone about a possible sale. Lo and behold, Canadian utility Algonquin Power and Utilities not only had approached the company, but it did it three times. Its last offer was for $13 per share as Gas Natural's was trading at a 60-day moving average of about $12.50 per share. Now Algonquin, which has a 4.9% stake in Gas Natural, has taken its case to shareholders, calling on them to back its proposals or, possibly, a change in the target's board. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

AP (July 23, 2014) 'Ray' the robotic parking valet at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany lets travelers to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot before heading to the check-in desk. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins