Research in the Costanzo lab focuses on the exploitation of simple and efficient synthesis to create complex and dynamic polymeric materials. In particular, our group extensively utilizes Diels-Alder chemistry (DA), where a dienophile (blue) attacks a diene (red) to yield a DA adduct (purple).

This chemical linker can be viewed as a type of “molecular velcro” – in that it can be pulled apart and put back together, repeatedly. This allows for the creation of dynamic and responsive materials. We have utilized this chemistry to prepare a variety of functional materials.

Rehealable, renewable coatings with Diels-Alder Chemistry

Soybean oil was modified with DA adducts to impart rehealable characteristics to a traditional 2K automotive topcoat formulation.

Click here to see a real time movie of the coating being healed.

Controlling fluid dynamics with Diels-Alder Chemistry

The ability to “load” a healing agent within a material is sought after for the development of rehealable materials. Here, we utilize surface energy and wet-ability to dictate fluid movement.

By attaching one component of the DA reaction to the surface and adding the other via a solution, we are able to control the wet-ability of the surface using selective heat treatments.

Development of insensitive munitions with Diels-Alder Chemistry

DA adducts are incorporated into a polymer backbone via post-polymerization modification. Thermal treatment of the sample results in two different outcomes that can both mitigate sympathetic detonation. First, the DA adducts can absorb energy and chemically insulate the energetic material. Second, cleavage of the DA adducts transforms the material from a solid state to liquid state which can alleviate pressure and also avoid detonation.