ReSource, Volume 13, 2001 Page: 8
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today, the pans we cook in, the cars
we drive and the toys we play with
are made possible by polymers, which
have made living more convenient and
Polymeric materials, commonly known
as plastics, are in the products that help
us grow older with ease and keep our
children safe. Polymers are in our furni-
ture and our clothes. They help keep our
food safe and our world connected.
In just a few decades, we have come to
consider the extraordinary properties of
plastics as nothing out of the ordinary.
New and improved
At the University of North Texas, Witold
Brostow, Ph.D., leads an international team
- faculty members, visiting professors, post
doctoral researchers and students - in con-
tinuing the polymeric evolution.
Under Brostow's direction, the
researchers at the UNT Laboratory of
Advanced Polymers and Optimized Materi-
als work to discover new properties and
uses for plastics.
The primary function of LAPOM is to find
ways to improve the properties of existing
materials or to create
UNT scientists work
to build a better polymer
by Kelley Reese
The UNT Laboratory of
Advanced Polymers and
Optimized Materials is one
of the leading polymer
science and engineering
labs in the world.
new ones that are
have low friction,
survive high tem-
peratures and can
impacts. As more
car and airplane
parts are being
replaced by plas-
tics, the demand
for such materials
UNT's lab is one
of the leading poly-
mer science and
tories in the world.
And each January,
as chair of the
organizes a POLY-
CHAR World Forum
at UNT with
participants from at
least 40 countries.
of the research in
the lab is aimed at
improving polymer coatings - including
those used on cookware.
"Many people use Teflon-covered frying
pans because foods don't stick," says Brostow.
"Yet, the surface is so easily scratched, the
pans have to be handled with extreme care."
The researchers hope to create a material
that will simultaneously have low friction (no
stick) and high scratch resistance. And
although more work is needed, Brostow
believes the results so far are quite promising.
If successful, the new coating would mean
you could use a trusty metal spatula to flip
your morning flapjacks without destroying
your pan while also having them slide right
out onto the plate once they're finished
And while most cooks would laud such an
advance in morning fry-up technology, for
the scientists it is a fairly complex task.
"The two properties are almost exclusive
of each other, which means we have to
develop one product that is essentially two,"
Tests and more tests
The team members look for the best mole-
cular structure for the materials they want to
create to meet their requirements. Sometimes
they create them by chemical modification,
and other times they create them by blend-
ing commercial epoxies with other materials.
But before they do either, a program of
unique 3-D computer simulations is used.
Molecular structures are created on a com-
puter by Ricardo Simoes, a doctoral student
in materials science from Portugal. The pro-
gram allows the researchers to specify the
properties they want - such as flexibility
and hardness - and then see what the
structure for such a material might be.
The program then tests the computer-
generated material, applying forces to deter-
mine the amount of stress it can withstand
before breaking down - and allowing the
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University of North Texas. ReSource, Volume 13, 2001, periodical, 2001; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29774/m1/8/: accessed December 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting University Relations, Communications & Marketing department for UNT.