About the Seminar:
The superior thermochemical stability and mechanical performance of thermoset polymers and their composites has facilitated widespread adoption of these materials in aerospace, automotive, marine, and energy sectors. The curing process of thermosets often requires heating the resin for several hours at elevated temperatures (ca. 180 °C) in large ovens or autoclaves, leading to high cost of manufacturing in terms of time, energy, and resources. In this talk, I will present a novel curing strategy based on “frontal polymerization” (FP) that enables rapid manufacturing of high-performance thermoset and composite parts with minimal energy input. FP is an exothermic reaction wave that provides the energy for materials synthesis, rather than requiring external energy. Applying a localized thermal stimulus on the reactive monomer solution triggers the polymerization, which proceeds in an autoactivating fashion without requiring any further external energy. Precise tuning of the underlying chemistry allows for unprecedented manufacturing of fiber-reinforced polymer composites, 3D printing of freeform structures, and moldless manufacturing of parts with complex geometries at various length scales.