What's in it?
If you're studying under Timothy Long (Ph.D. chemistry '87), a College of Science chemistry professor named one of three 2015 Virginia Outstanding Scientists, you just might face a test question that asks you to describe the technology and molecular structure of a diaper.
Adhesives are based on novel polymers combined with tailored surface energy and topology. Often, pressure-sensitive adhesives are used for simple bonding and de-bonding.
Networks contain both covalent and noncovalent chemical bonds, forming a sponge-like supramolecular structure capable of binding water.
Polyurethanes are segmented copolymers that present a nanoscale, phase-separated morphology to construct a physical network with superior elasticity.
Polyolefins are hydrophobic, inexpensive, and readily fabricated into a nonwoven fibrous mesh for mechanical durability.
Long directs the Macromolecules and Interfaces Institute, which harnesses Virginia Tech's interdisciplinary expertise in polymers—crucial materials in the multibillion-dollar chemical and manufacturing industries. For example, his research group is developing "2050 plastics" for use in 3-D printing to potentially replace the 1950s plastics used now. Such initiatives benefit from Virginia Tech's approach of uniting scientists, engineers, artists, and more to make products that people use. "Our interdisciplinary model is no longer a paradigm—it is an expectation. This approach to discovery exemplifies our culture on campus, and that's what makes Virginia Tech unique," Long said.
Timothy Long: How materials research can revolutionize the future
Outreach and International Affairs | May 14, 2015