A promising new cross-linking technique for paints and coatings

ARC CBBC researchers Felix de Zwart, Johan Bootsma and Bas de Bruin of the University of Amsterdam explain in scientific journal Science their excitement about a new method for cross-linking of polymeric materials, as designed by a Canadian research group. This method is based on a molecule, designed in the group of Jeremy E. Wulff at the University of Victoria in Canada (1), and can generate highly reactive carbenes. This new cross-linker can be used to couple difficult to link polymers, such as polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP).

De Zwart, Bootsma and de Bruin are doing research on cross-linking within the programme of ARC CBBC. It is a property crucial for the development of plastics, paints and coatings. Cross-linking refers to the formation of additional three-dimensional (3D) bonds between different polymer chains. Products which are based on polymer chains, derive their 3D-structure and strength from these cross-links.

The ARC CBBC researchers point out that the new cross-linking technique the group in Canada designed, also has potential for universal products such as paints and coatings. They are currently working on making these on the basis of bio-based materials such as cellulose and lignin. This requires suitable new cross-linking molecules that can create additional bonds in cellulose or lignin. The work of Lepage et al. therefore is of high interest.

The Advanced Research Center Chemical Building Blocks Consortium (ARC CBBC) is a public-private partnership, in which the universities of the Netherlands work together with industrial partners AkzoNobel, BASF, Nouryon and Shell on sustainable chemical products. The consortium has, for example, the ambition to enable biomolecules to be used as key ingredients in paints and coatings. ARC CBBC is funding the research of de Zwart, Bootsma and de Bruin.

Read the full Perspective of de Zwart, Bootsma and de Bruin in Science here.

1. M. L. Lepage et al., Science 366, 875 (2019).