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PhD awarded to Chongnan Ye is the first to be awarded to someone from the hybrid research group led by Katja Loos (University of the North)

16 May 2022

On Tuesday 17 May, UG researcher Chongnan Ye will obtain his PhD for his research on new versatile polymers. Ye developed a library of sustainable dynamic polymer networks for advanced applications. Ye conducted his PhD as part of the research group led by Professor Katja Loos. Among other collaborators, this group works together with NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences in Emmen, a unique collaboration in the Netherlands that is the result of the University of the North (UvhN) partnership.

Synthetic polymers are one of the most important inventions of mankind, which are often categorized into two basic categories named thermoplastics and thermosets. Thermoplastics are linear polymer chains with the capacity to be reprocessed at high temperatures. Thermoset polymers, on the other hand, are made up of chemically crosslinked networks. Owing to their different topological structure, thermosets usually outperform thermoplastics in shape stability and creep resistance, but have worse reprocessing and recyclability.

With the development of covalent combinatorial chemistry, vitrimers, a group of dynamic polymer network, were first introduced by Leibler et al. in 2011. As a class of new covalent associative networks (CANs), vitrimers provide a solution to combine the best of both worlds. By including an appropriate transesterification catalyst to polyester-based epoxy resin networks, the permanent networks exhibit a gradual viscosity decrease upon heating, similar to vitreous silica, which is why the term “vitrimer” was coined.

In the last decade, vitrimers have drawn significant attention due to their recyclability, but they shouldn't be solely constrained to recycling thermosets in traditional plastic applications, like packaging, casting, and construction. Therefore, we have developed a library of sustainable dynamic polymer networks, vitrimers, for advanced applications. Owing to the synergy of dynamic covalent bond exchange reactions and employed function groups, a series of novel vitrimers were created to fit various applications, including water remediation, motion monitoring, energy harvesting and healable 3D printing.

Chongnan Ye in the lab
Chongnan Ye in the Lab

University of the North

Through the UvhN’s network, we are bundling our supreme knowledge for the development of the North by making a connection between academic and practice-oriented teaching and research focusing on themes such as the circular economy and sustainable energy. By sharing our knowledge and innovating together, we are creating knowledge clusters with new and directly applicable
supreme knowledge that impact the Northern Netherlands and beyond. These knowledge clusters will also ensure talent is retained in and attracted to the region. This way, together with the UvhN, we are investing in a vital northern region.

Last modified:18 May 2022 1.08 p.m.
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