Hydrogen-Bonding Bottlebrush Networks: Self-Healing Materials from Super-Soft to Stiff

Renxuan Xie, Intanon Lapkriengkri, Nabendu B. Pramanik, Sanjoy Mukherjee, Jacob R. Blankenship, Kaitlin Albanese, Hengbin Wang, Michael L. Chabinyc, Christopher M. Bates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The impact of polymer architecture on network dynamics and self-healing is presented using bottlebrushes containing side chains that are end-functionalized with 2-ureido-4[1H]-pyrimidinone (UPy). The synthesis of these materials is straightforward through a three-step process: (1) synthesizing rubbery poly(4-methylcaprolactone) macromonomers (p4MCL-OH) with a norbornene-based initiator, (2) functionalizing the terminal hydroxyl group with UPy-isocyanate (p4MCL-UPy), and (3) statistically copolymerizing p4MCL-OH and p4MCL-UPy via ring-opening metathesis polymerization (ROMP) to form hydrogen-bonding bottlebrushes having a fraction (p) of side chains functionalized with UPy. Attaching UPy to the free end of bottlebrush side chains dilutes the impact of friction from complementary UPy interactions on segmental dynamics, leading to a much weaker dependence of the glass-transition temperature (Tg) on p than observed in linear analogues, while the activation energy to dissociate UPy-UPy bonds (41-47 kJ/mol) remains mostly unchanged. Longer side chains result in a competition between reducing Tg and inducing entanglements that influence hydrogen-bonded network dynamics. Increasing the backbone length extends the sticky Rouse region without affecting the network modulus (Gx) or UPy-UPy dissociation time (τs). Gx scales linearly with p and ranges from 27 kPa to 1.6 MPa, while τs remains nearly constant in contrast to linear telechelic ionomers, implying a similar self-healability across bottlebrush networks containing different amounts of UPy. These stretchable networks with p ≤ 0.25 undergo self-healing upon repeated rupture and melt pressing at ≤100 °C while retaining similar tensile properties. In summary, decorating bottlebrush polymers with hydrogen bonds creates opportunities to independently manipulate associative network dynamics and mechanical moduli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10513-10521
Number of pages9
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 13 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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