Natural and synthetic rubbers
We strive to develop bio-inspired pathways for synthetic rubbers, mimicking the in vivo biosynthesis of natural rubber (NR). For instance, the cationic polymerization of isoprene can be performed in emulsion, which leads to high molar mass polyisoprene without detectable side reactions.
The influence of non-polyisoprene constituents on the properties of NR is also thoroughly studied, in particular, the role of enzymes such as Rubber Elongation Factor (REF) and Small Rubber Particle Protein (SRPP) on the "cold crystallization" (CCr) of NR. Thus, the linked fatty chains have been found to prevent the polymer from crystallizing at low temperature (-25°C). On the other hand, addition of free fatty acids to the functionalized NR improves the crystallization of polyisoprene chains.
Finally, we are also interested in the design of novel waste-free and recyclable elastomeric networks. To meet both the ease of processing (low viscosity) and the need for reversibility of elastomeric networks, low molar mass telechelic polybutadienes and polyisoprenes have been reversibly crosslinked using the furan/maleimide coupling chemistry, enabling to reuse these elastomers with no change of their thermomechanical properties after 5 cycles of recycling.
Macro to nano polymer foams / a material approach
Material’s approach is considered when materials can be fabricated in a sufficient scale for property characterization, chemistry is a criterion of choice.
Such a work relates chemistry <> Formulation <> Morphology <> Properties (“materials by design”) of polymer solid state materials.
Two groups of polymer materials are currently studied:
a) cellular polymers (also named foams, porous, light-weight materials), being either thermoplastics (PMMA), thermosets (acrylic, epoxy) or rubbers (EPDM basis).
b) polymer-based bulk systems “from the environment” or “for the environment” (e.g degraded recycled polyethylene for oil sorption, wood based blends).