POLYMAT - POLYmeric MATerials


The main activities of the PolyMat group are in the domain of sustainable thermoset polymers and composites, in the form of thin films, fibrous membranes and 3D printed objects. Different polymerisation and crosslinking processes are employed, with both thermal and/or photoinduced initiation. Composites are prepared by top-down techniques (e.g. dispersion of fillers in polymer precursors) or bottom-up techniques, synthesising nanoparticles in situ from suitable precursors at the same time as matrix polymerisation.
Material characterisation includes physico-chemical and spectroscopic techniques, thermal, mechanical and dynamomechanical analyses, investigations with optical, AFM and electron microscopies, and permeability tests. Material surfaces are investigated with contact angle techniques, surface tension measurements, compositional profiles with specific spectroscopies such as ATR-FTIR and XPS.
Innovation to the field is brought by the choice of chemistries allowing reversibility of the curing, i.e., the dismantling of the polymeric network. Notable examples of reversible networks developed are covalent adaptable networks based on epoxide/amine or epoxide/acid chemistries, and photoreversible systems synthesised leveraging 2+2 cycloadditions via cinnamic and coumarin groups present on prepolymers or dynamic disulfide bonds. To strengthen sustainability, the polymeric structures mentioned before are preferably designed choosing biobased and/or recycled precursors and applying the Green Chemistry guidelines (e.g., eliminating the use of solvents, or using water-based systems, replacing toxic or hazardous chemicals with safer ones). In the case of composites, the above guidelines address the choice of fillers and their modification: fillers are natural powders such as micro/nano-cellulose, lignin, clays. Fillers are also prepared on purpose recycling waste (e.g., nanocellulose from hemp waste); surface modification is conducted by physical means (e.g., plasma treatment) and chemical reactions to introduce functionalities improving the filler-matrix interactions to optimize the mechanical, thermal and permeability properties, preferably guaranteeing reversibility in case of filler-matrix covalent bridging.
PolyMat group develops thermoset and photocured materials (i.e., polymeric networks and their composites) preferably using coating and spinning as processing techniques. The materials are produced in the form of films and of nano and micro-layers and that find application in the field of coatings, inks, adhesives and packaging. Micro and nano-fibers are obtained by electrospinning and used as fibrous membranes for the development of biomedical devices, water/oil separation filters, radiative cooling systems. Finally, the sustainable polymers and composites are tested as feed for additive manufacturing, such as stereolithography and liquid deposition modelling.

Main partnerships

  • Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia
  • Università di Trento
  • Università di Milano Bicocca
  • Politecnico di Milano
  • STIIMA-CNR Biella
  • Institut National Polytechnique – Université de Grenoble Alpes (F),
  • École Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Montpellier ENSCM (F),
  • EPFL École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (CH)
  • Imperial College (UK)
  • Polymer Competence Center Leoben (A)
  • Yildiz Technical University Istanbul (TK)

Projects and publications

Reference laboratories