New Strategy Produces Stronger Polymers

Plastic, rubber, and many other useful materials are made of polymers — long chains arranged in a cross-linked network. At the molecular level, these polymer networks contain structural flaws that weaken them.

Several years ago, MIT researchers were the first to measure certain types of these defects, called “loops,” which are caused when a chain in the polymer network binds to itself instead of another chain. Now, the same researchers have found a simple way to reduce the number of loops in a polymer network and thus strengthen materials made from polymers.

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