A team of researchers at the College of Science and College of Engineering found that the polymer PBDT is composed of a rare double helix structure, which will help the material to be used in a number of applications.
The new study about the presence of double helix in PBDT polymer was published in the journal Nature Communications in March 2019. The scientists believe that the double helix structure will help other researchers to use the material for many different usage.
The polymer could be used in conventional flammable liquid battery electrolytes due to its superior properties, which was not known prior to the discovery of double helix.
Lou Madsen, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and lead researcher of the study, said: “This polymer has been around for 30 years, and no one had figured out that it’s a double helix. Double helices in synthetic systems are essentially unheard of.”
According to the researchers, they had demonstrated previously that PBDT held dominant potential to mix with ions and comprised double helix. However this study was to appreciate the features of the materials with double helix.
The team simulated a self-assembly to form a double helical structure and created different conditions and methods of running the simulations. They observed that real double helix was present in the polymer PBDT, due to which it could be used beyond battery electrolytes, such as lightweight aerospace materials.
The other researchers involved in the study included Rui Qiao, professor of mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech, Robert Moore, professor of chemistry at Virginia Tech, Theo Dingemans at the University of North Carolina, and Bernd Ensing at the University of Amsterdam.