A major challenge in the recycling of polymers - whether traditional mechanical recycling or chemical recycling that enables the recovery of pristine monomer - is in the separation of polymers of different composition. This is particularly difficult in cases of materials containing multiple kinds of plastics, ranging from the simple case of a container with a lid composed of a different material than the body, to the more complex case of a 3D printer multimaterial object.
As a group fascinated by the potential of additive manufacturing to attain highly complex structures with locally controlled orientation and composition, we are also keenly aware of the challenges these structures pose to our recycling system. We address these via polymer systems for which the material properties and cue for degradation can be independently controlled, enabling selective degradation of multimaterial structures. We are also interested in surface reconstruction in the presence of solvent, and its role in controlled degradation.