IBM Researchers have emerged from their smoke filled labs having discovered a new class of polymer materials that could transform manufacturing and fabrication in the fields of transportation, aerospace, and microelectronics.
The team mixed high performance computing with synthetic polymer chemistry and developed new materials that can resist cracking and are stronger than bone. They can also self-heal and are completely recyclable.
The materials can be transformed into new polymer structures to bolster their strength by 50 per cent – making them ultra strong and lightweight.
Today’s polymer materials are limited because they find it hard to cope with environmental factors (and exhibit poor environmental stress crack resistance.
They are difficult to recycle because they cannot be remolded or reworked once cured or thermally decomposed by heating to high temperatures.
The ability to selectively recycle a structural component would have significant impact in the semiconductor industry and advanced manufacturing as they could rework high-value but defective manufactured parts or chips instead of throwing them away. This could bolster fabrication yields, save money and significantly decrease microelectronic waste.
James Hedrick, Advanced Organic Materials Scientist, IBM Research said that the new materials were critical to fixing major global challenges, developing new products and emerging disruptive technologies,
He said that IBM could predict how molecules will respond to chemical reactions and build new polymer structures with significant guidance from computation that facilitates accelerated materials discovery.