Biomimetic Polymers

Another field of research activity is the development of biomimetic polymers. Inspired by the microstructure of the muscle protein titin, we produced, among others, tailor-made ring polymers containing segments with hydrogen-bonding groups. To this end, we first investigated the ring expansion
polymerization of thiiranes mechanistically and kinetically. By modularly building a poly-ring-system, we finally mimicked the structure of titin and obtained polymers with greatly improved mechanical properties, with shape memory and with healing properties:
Following the microstructure of spider silk, we developed multiblock copolymers that also contained hydrogen-bonding segments in the form of short polymer blocks, which also showed improved mechanical properties as well as shape memory and cure characteristics. However, the exact microstructure of such hydrogen-bonding polymers has not yet been identified and requires further investigation.

To further optimize and tailor the structure of these multiblock copolymers, we introduced defined branch points into the material using RAFT star polymers. By mixing polymeric and star-shaped RAFT agents, we were able to control polymer and branching structure during a single process, resulting in materials with further improved mechanical properties.