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Chemistry In Pictures

Chemistry in Pictures: Rigid in the right places

by Manny I. Fox Morone
October 21, 2022

Credit: Adrian Rylski

Zachariah Page’s lab at the University of Texas at Austin tries to think up structures that combine properties of multiple materials, so graduate student Adrian Rylski made this hybrid material that’s mostly stretchy but has tiny islands of rigidity. Importantly, Rylski figured out how to fabricate the soft and rigid parts system at the same time using a single starting material. The researchers mixed two types of ruthenium catalysts in a solution of cis-cyclooctene. One catalyst spontaneously polymerizes cyclooctene, forming a disordered stretchy material; the other catalyst creates a rigid material, but only when it is exposed to light. By masking some areas of the material and not others, the researchers used light to make rigid designs, such as these squares, in an otherwise soft material. Because of the way that strain is distributed in the polymer as it stretches—represented by the patchwork of colors created by cross-polarized light—the Page lab says this setup could be useful for incorporating rigid electronics into stretchable systems.

Credit: Adrian Rylski. Follow @ZPageGroup on Twitter and Instagram. And read their recent paper in Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.add6975.

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