Manufacturing and Use of a Molecularly Recyclable Polymer

J. Schwartz, A. Engler, P. Kohl
Polymer Solutions Inc,
United States

Keywords: metastable plastics, low ceiling temperature polymers, chemical recycling, self-immolative, circular plastic economy, patternable resist


Polymer Solutions Inc has developed a unique family of polymers that can be easily depolymerized back to the starting monomers via an optical, thermal, or chemical trigger. The polymers are composed of cyclic, low ceiling temperature (Tc) poly(aldehydes). Tc is the thermodynamic temperature which separates polymer from monomer. The Tc of our polymers is below ambient conditions making the polymer metastable at room temperature, which minimizes the energy requirements for chemical, or molecular, recycling. The polymers very rapidly and cleanly decompose into monomer only when triggered because the mechanism of depolymerization is suppressed until triggered. Once a single bond is broken in the cyclic polymer, the two ends that are created enable spontaneous depolymerization of the entire molecule. The recovered monomers can then be reused to reform virgin polymer, ideal for enabling a circular plastic economy. These polymers can be functionalized and formulated to provide tunable chemical and mechanical properties and controllable depolymerization profiles. We have patented and commercialized these materials for applications in microelectronics as resists and sacrificial layers. Expanded uses have thus far been limited by a lack of understanding regarding the longevity of the polymers, potential bulk material properties, and the expensive, inefficient synthesis methods. This talk will focus on the current and potential applications of these molecularly recyclable polymers as well as our efforts to decrease the manufacturing cost through a continuous flow reactor.