In the research of Rint Sijbesma the focus is on the development of polymeric materials with functionalities on the nanometer length scale, by making sophisticated use of specific supramolecular interactions. In particular multiple hydrogen bonding interactions and reversible metal coordination are employed in thermoplastic elastomers and in liquid crystalline materials. Sijbesma’s design of synthetically accessible hydrogen bonding units with extremely high binding constants has led to the development of novel supramolecular polymers. He has studied many fundamental aspects of this new class of materials and initiated the development of promising ‘smart’ materials. These are currently further developed by the startup company Suprapolix BV. The potential of hydrogen bonding is also employed in thermoplastic elastomers with well-defined bisurea hard blocks. Attractive mechanical properties of these materials and the possibilities for molecular recognition are combined in a number of projects aimed at mechanical alignment of chromophores, immobilization of catalysts, and improved stamp materials for microcontact printing. The use of mechanical forces in polymers to modify parameters such as catalytic activity or magnetic and optical properties is rapidly emerging as a promising new area of research. Presently, Sijbesma is focusing on the use of ultrasound to break coordination polymers in a reversible manner, and on the use of thermoplastic elastomers as the matrix for mechanically induced chemistry.
Office: HEO 4.27