Low surface energy plastics such as polyethylene (PE, HDPE, UHMWPE) and polypropylene (PP) are remarkable materials for applications that require molded dimensions, lightweight strength, durability, or resistant properties. Despite these advantages, low-surface energy plastics present challenges to designers and manufacturers because of their resistance to bonding with other materials, coatings or dyes.
Drawing on inspiration from the field of chemical biology, XLYNX researchers overcame this bonding challenge by successfully applying a diazirine crosslinking solution to a materials science context. Diazirines are three-member rings with one carbon and two double-bonded nitrogen atoms. When to moderate heat, UV light or near UV-light, diazirines rapidly break down, expelling a molecule of nitrogen gas to form a highly reactive carbene which is capable of forming C-H, O-H, or N-H insertion bonds with nearly any nearby polymer substrate.