Adjustable hyperbranched polymer system

Modifying HBP compounds with polyoxometalate to produce HBP-POM complexes


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Hyperbranched polymers are widely used in advanced materials, such as paints, coatings, adhesives, and additives. (Image Credit: Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels)

Army Research Laboratory scientists developed HBP-POM compounds in an efficient architectural design that allows flip-flopping of functional groups. The patented technology is available via license agreement to companies that would make, use, or sell it commercially.

Hyperbranched polymers (HBP) are 3D macromolecules that are structurally unique with dendritic architecture that produces exceptional properties. These include multiple functional groups, low viscosity, high solubility, and intramolecular cavities. Their use is ubiquitous across many industries such as advanced materials, paints, coatings, adhesives, and additives.

ARL scientists have developed a method for producing hyperbranched polymers with specialized functional groups. An HBP scaffold is modified with a fluorosurfactant to form an HBP compound, then further altered through the addition of an aliphatic compound, and finally complexed with a polyoxometalate (POM) to create an HBP-POM complex.

The method further includes interface-directed branched polymer transport systems that may consist of HBPs in a matrix that are complexed with POM functional groups. Upon exposure to a contaminating substance, the POM functional groups migrate to the surface of the matrix and inactivate the contaminant.

The ARL system highlights two primary features. The first is an efficient architectural design, where chemical functional groups are assembled at the molecular level and in high local concentrations. These domains of dense functional groups bloom to the surface because of strong chemical interactions. By using this approach, far less additive must be used.

The second feature is that the surfaces of these materials can adapt to the environment by switching between exposed functional groups to optimize surface-environment interactions. This switching function can be envisioned as one group burying itself while the preferred group migrates to the surface of the polymer. The molecular architecture simultaneously increases surfactant efficiency and permits delivery of chemical functionalities.

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