Chemical engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have announced that they have developed a new type of plastic twice as strong as steel. The low-emission material could improve the properties of conventional products.
The material called 2DPA-1 has unique properties – it is light and malleable similar to traditional plastics. Its strength and durability can be compared to steel or bulletproof glass. Due to the closed molecular structure of the material compared to other plastics, it is impermeable to water and gases, so it offers an extremely high degree of protection against oxidation, rust, or rot.
The success lies in the molecular grouping, which is entirely different from other plastics. For example, 2DPA-1 grows in two dimensions, forming a polyaramid in the form of a sheet. Other polymers exist in one-dimensional chains, at the ends of which new molecules are added.
MIT engineers anticipate that 2DPA-1 will be used soon as a coating to increase the durability of buildings and later directly as a construction material. For example, a thin coating could be applied to cars, phones, or other familiar objects. The layer would be so thin that it would be invisible but still give excellent durability.
The production of this unique polymer takes place chemically, so it requires little energy compared to materials such as steel or glass. This indicates lower GHG emissions compared to steel. Engineers also theoretically assume that polymer should be chemically recyclable like nylon. 2DPA-1 can be easily produced in large quantities. This indicates a favorable price for consumers.
Source and credit: nature.com/articles/s41586-021-04296-3, pixabay.com,