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Course: Thermoplastic & Functional Elastomers

June 6 @ 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

CEUs: 0.76 (To receive the CEUs, attendees must attend the course live and promptly complete the survey evaluation after the course.)

Location: This course is available virtually only. It can be taken from the comfort of your home or office – remotely from any tablet, laptop or computer.

Course Overview: With growing global concern regarding the increasing level of solid waste due to polymeric materials and interest in material recycling, thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) provide an attractive alternative to conventional elastomers. This class of materials relies on combining thermoplastic and elastomeric properties into single macromolecules, along with physical, rather than chemical, crosslinking to introduce elasticity. While a wide range of TPEs is commercially available, most TPEs rely on a block copolymer in which macromolecules consist of three or more long, contiguous sequences of dissimilar chemical species. Due to thermodynamic incompatibility between these sequences, these molecules self-assemble into mesoscale morphologies and form a flexible molecular network that is stabilized by rigid microdomains that serve as physical crosslinks. This course will introduce participants to different types and contemporary uses of TPEs, in addition to the molecular design, synthesis and characteristics of TPEs derived from block copolymers. Thermodynamic considerations regarding network formation and bridging metrics in TPEs will be addressed by experimental observations, theoretical predictions and computer simulations. Blends of TPEs and their uses in conventional and emerging applications will be described, as will the chemical functionalization of TPEs for specialized technologies (e.g., designer additives, organic photovoltaics, soft actuators, separation membranes and antimicrobial materials).

Learning Objectives:
– Distinguish and classify the different families of TPEs that are presently available
– Identify commercial applications that benefit from the properties afforded by TPEs
– Differentiate between physical and chemical crosslinking in terms of network formation
– Relate network formation to microphase separation in TPEs based on block copolymers
– Discuss the effects of molecular characteristics on structure-property relationships
– Design TPE-containing blends with polymers for targeted morphologies and properties
– Compare mechanical and electromechanical properties of selectively solvated TPEs
– Modify TPEs either physically or chemically to introduce stimuli-responsiveness
– Functionalize TPEs for use in environment-, energy- and health-related applications
– Choose (un)functionalized TPEs as compatibilizing agents in biphasic polymer blends

Topical Outline:
– Different classes of TPEs as physically-crosslinked elastomers
– Block copolymers differing in molecular characteristics as TPEs
– Self-assembly and network formation in block copolymer TPEs
– Network characteristics of TPEs varying in molecular characteristics
– Structure-property relationships of TPE-containing polymer blends
– Selectively-solvated TPEs as an emerging class of tunably soft materials
– Viscoelasticity and network characteristics in TPE gels for targeted applications
– Introduction to electroactive and other stimuli-responsive TPE systems
– Functional TPEs with photoresponsive, separation and antimicrobial properties
– Native/functional TPEs for toughening, compatibilization and novel purposes

Price: $495 Member / $595 Non-member / Free for Undergraduate Student Members / $100 for Other Student Members


Instructor: Richard J. Spontak, North Carolina State University
Bio: Dr. Richard J. Spontak is a Distinguished Professor and Alumni Distinguished Graduate and Undergraduate Professor in the Departments of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering and Materials Science & Engineering at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. He received his B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering (with honors/high distinction) from the Pennsylvania State University in 1983 and was later awarded the Ph.D. degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley in 1988. He then pursued post-doctoral research in Materials Science & Metallurgy at the University of Cambridge (U.K.) and Condensed Matter Physics at the Institute for Energy Technology (Norway) before joining the Corporate Research Division of the Procter & Gamble Company in 1990. In 1992, he accepted a faculty position at North Carolina State University, where he supervises the Macromolecular Materials & Morphology Group. Since that time, Spontak has published over 280 peer-reviewed journal papers and over 30 scholarly works as book chapters and invited monographs, and his work has been featured on 29 journal covers and cited over 12,000 times according to Google Scholar. Although active in a diverse range of disciplines, his primary research interests relate to the phase behavior and morphology/property development of nanostructured polymers, polymer nanocomposites and coatings, electron microscopy and stimuli-responsive soft materials. In recognition of his fundamental and applied research endeavors, he is the recipient of numerous honors and awards such as the Alcoa Foundation Engineering Achievement and Distinguished Engineering Research Awards, Alexander von Humboldt and Tewkesbury fellowships, the North Carolina State University Alumni Outstanding Research and Global Engagement Awards, the 2006 American Chemical Society (PMSE Division) Cooperative Research Award in Polymer Science & Engineering, the 2007 German Society for Electron Microscopy Ernst Ruska Prize, the 2008 American Chemical Society (Rubber Division) Chemistry of Thermoplastic Elastomers Award, the 2011 Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) Colwyn Medal, the 2012 Norwegian University of Science & Technology Lars Onsager Medal and the 2015 Society of Plastics Engineers International Award. An elected fellow of the American Physical Society, IOM3 and the Royal Society of Chemistry, he is or has been on the editorial advisory board of more than 20 international journals and holds editorial positions on three of them. He has been recognized as a 2007 Outstanding Scholar Alumnus and a 2012 Alumni Fellow by the Pennsylvania State University, and he is a member of the Norwegian Academy of Technological Sciences and the North Carolina State University Research Leadership, Global Engagement and Outstanding Teaching Academies. Spontak is also a highly acclaimed educator and academic mentor. For his instructional effectiveness employing cooperative and active learning pedagogies in the classroom and his widespread efforts to promote interdisciplinary engineering design and undergraduate research, he has received college- and alumni-level Outstanding Teaching Awards, as well as the university-level Board of Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest institutional honor bestowed by the University of North Carolina system. He has also received the 2006 International Network for Engineering Education & Research Recognition Award and the 2009 American Society for Engineering Education Southeast Region Outstanding Mid-Career Teaching Award, and he has served as a Fulbright Senior Specialist and an Erasmus Fellow. He resides in Raleigh, North Carolina, with his wife Josie and has two children, Danielle and Joshua.


June 6
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Event Category: