OSTC

Optical Science and
Technology Center

Photopolymerization

Photopolymerization is one scientific domain that offers both a wealth of intriguing fundamental challenges and a variety of compelling practical applications for successful investigators. Photopolymerizations are light-induced reactions that convert a liquid monomer into a solid polymer. The use of light, rather than heat, to drive the reactions leads to a variety of advantages, including solvent-free formulations, very high reaction rates at room temperature, spatial control of the polymerization, low energy input, and chemical versatility since a wide variety of polymers can be polymerized photochemically. Indeed, photopolymerization is one of the most rapidly expanding processes for materials production, with more than 15% annual growth projected for the next several years. Over the past few decades, many challenges in the field of photopolymerization have been overcome, and the world-wide market for photo-curable systems exceeds $1 billion per annum, however the field is still relatively young, and offers tremendous opportunities for creative scientists and engineers to make new discoveries and devise new applications. At the University of Iowa a productive team of faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students are providing a fundamental characterization of the relationships among the kinetics, mechanisms, structures, and properties of a diverse array of photopolymerization systems. These studies will provide new fundamental knowledge that could lead to optimization of current photopolymerization processes, and to the development of new applications of these versatile reactions.

Members in this area of research: