During frontal polymerization, the competitive balance of power generated by the chemical reaction and spread by thermal transport spontaneously creates complex thermal profiles (see video below) that are exploited to pattern final material properties. Surface morphology, stiffness, microstructure, and color of the resulting polymer are varied by combining the undulations in reaction temperature with orthogonal processes (e.g. thermal expansion, isomerization, and thermochromes). The spatial patterns are tuned by controlling input parameters such as the initial temperature or the monomer chemistry. See our recent publication in ACS Central Science.
Emergent thermal fluctuations are harnessed to pattern the physical, chemical, and mechanical properties of materials.
Patterned thermal profiles emerge spontaneously during free-surface frontal polymerization of dicyclopentadiene.