Faculty Sponsor's Department(s):
Petrochemically derived plastics are known for their chemical inertness, where plastic bags can take up to 500 years to break down. Therefore, there has been a significant interest in the development of green monomer and degradable crosslinker chemistries by using low cost bio-feedstocks. In search of monomers that can be chemically modified for efficient polymerization, we explored different chemical routes for the syntheses of green monomers using feedstocks from lemon and corn that can either undergo radical or cationic polymerizations. For instance, we have synthesized itaconic anhydride via nucleophilic substitution of itaconic acid, which is derived from corns, and tested its capacity for hetero-functionalization and polymerization. The ultimate goal is to use sustainable monomers in combination with degradable crosslinkers to make photocurable resin and apply to light-mediated 3D printing. Light-mediated 3D printing techniques, such as Solution Mask Liquid Lithography (SMaLL) developed in the Hawker group, allow one to create high resolution 3D printed objects with target mechanical and chemical properties. In particular, SMaLL enables the incorporation of more than two monomers in one pot where the polymerization of each monomer can be regulated using different wavelengths of light. This allows orthogonal polymerizations at different regions. By introducing green monomers and degradable crosslinkers to multicomponent 3D printing, high resolution 3D printed biodegradable multimaterials can be achieved.