Our group investigates the polymer chemistry and physics of materials with dynamic and functional properties. In one focus area, we incorporate dynamic covalent bonds into polymer networks to impart self-healing, recyclability, and circularity to typically static systems (like rubbers or thermosets). We also use dynamic bond exchange as a mechanism to control mass, ion, and thermal transport in mecanically robust networks. Molecules and ions can be hindered by dense networks, while bond exchange can relax some of the constraints imparted by the mesh. Thermal transport is enhanced in dynamic networks because of the way dynamic bonds allow rearrangements of polymer strands to reach high percent crystallinity and perfection of the crystals. Finally, we are working to understand how multiple dynamic bonds in a network interact, and can give rise to unique viscoelastic properties which are desired for energy dissipation, additive manufacturing, and actuators.

The second key focus area of the group is in designing materials for enhanced ion transport. We have investigated the roles of network architecture, dynamic bonds, and polymer secondary structure. Solid electrolytes with dynamic bonds lead to additional interactions between the salt and polymer because many bonds can coordinate with anions or cations. This leads to huge changes in the viscoelastic properties, but in most cases does not impact conductivity. In a recent effort, we have seen that helical polypeptides are more conductive than their random coil counterparts leading to new design rules for stable, efficient, and degradeable organic electrolytes.