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Harnessing Autocatalytic Reactions in Polymerization and Depolymerization...

Publication Type
Journal Name
MRS Communications
Publication Date
Page Numbers
1 to 14

Autocatalysis and its relevance to various polymeric systems are discussed by taking inspiration from biology. A number of research directions related to synthesis, characterization, and multi-scale modeling are discussed in order to harness autocatalytic reactions in a useful manner for different applications ranging from chemical upcycling of polymers (depolymerization and reconstruction after depolymerization), self-generating micelles and vesicles, and polymer membranes. Overall, a concerted effort involving in situ experiments, multi-scale modeling, and machine learning algorithms is proposed to understand the mechanisms of physical and chemical autocatalysis. It is argued that a control of the autocatalytic behavior in polymeric systems can revolutionize areas such as kinetic control of the self-assembly of polymeric materials, synthesis of self-healing and self-immolative polymers, as next generation of materials for a sustainable circular economy.