Dr. Jimmy Mays, Professor of Chemistry and an ORNL Distinguished Scientist, will kickoff the Spring 2014 UT Science Forum Friday, January 24. His presentation, “Changing the World with Polymer Chemistry,” will focus on thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs), which are rubbery materials that can undergo large reversible deformation.
Unlike conventional crosslinked rubber, TPEs do not require chemical crosslinking, which gives advantages of lower processing costs and easy recycling. Conventional styrene/diene TPEs, for example Kraton® – a product of Kraton Polymers and a major commercial product, have changed little since their discovery 50 years ago by Shell Oil Company.
Dr. Mays will summarize the results of a fundamental study focused on understanding how changing macromolecular architecture affects morphology and mechanical properties of styrene/diene block copolymers. By optimizing macromolecular architecture, researchers have been able to develop materials that stretch much more before breaking; have superior elastic recovery; and have a highly tunable modulus. Dr. Mays and his team are presently scaling up these materials and exploring their commercial applications, including potential use in next generation condoms.
The UT Science Forum takes place every Friday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. in the Rooms C-D of the Thompson Boling Arena Cafe.