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Light-Mediated Control of Polymeric Materials


The synthesis and characterization of precision polymeric materials represents a broad research area with significant value to society. Recently, light-mediated approaches to controlled polymer synthesis have attracted significant interest due to the low cost and tremendous tunability of modern light sources. Through manipulating these various properties (wavelength, intensity, etc), researchers have made considerable progress in controlling a wide range of important polymeric properties such as molecular weight distribution, comonomer composition, and molecular architecture. However, the systems developed to date have largely focused on homogenous targets and have lacked in-depth photophysical interpretation. This dissertation describes the development of an in-situ approach to studying light-mediated chemical reactions and efforts to better understand the temporal control of state-of-the-art photopolymerizations. Furthermore, the lessons learned from these studies led to the development of a new approach to 3D printing, wherein specific wavelengths of visible light were used to independently and simultaneously define local materials properties throughout a part in a single step. This breakthrough in additive manufacturing greatly expands the potential of multi-material printing techniques. The findings of these works have broad implications for using light as a tool for the future development of synthetic approaches to advanced polymeric materials.

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