University of Liverpool — Chemists solve long-standing polymer science puzzle

New research by the University of Liverpool’s Chemistry Department represents an important breakthrough in the field of polymer science.

In a paper published in the journal Nature Chemistry, and featuring on the front cover, Liverpool researchers use mechanochemistry to characterise how a polymer chain in solution responds to a sudden acceleration of the solvent flow around it.

This new approach allows a fundamental and technological question that has preoccupied polymer scientists for the past 50 years to be finally answered.

Since the 1980s, researchers have been trying to understand the unique response of dissolved polymer chains to suddenly accelerating solvent flows but had been constrained to highly simplified solvent flows that provided limited exploitable insights into the behaviour of real-world systems.

The new discovery by Liverpool chemists Professor Roman Boulatov and Dr Robert O’Neill has significant scientific implications for several areas of physical sciences as well as at a practical level for polymer-based rheological control used in many multi-million dollar industrial processes such as enhanced oil and gas recovery, long distance piping and photovoltaics manufacturing. Read more