Lixu Yang

Office: LB20 (temporary)

Email: lixu.yang@ucl.ac.uk

Education:   

  • 2009-2013 PhD at University of Edinburgh
  • 2004-2008 BSc at Nankai University, China

Project: Nature-inspired Self-healing Materials from Plastic Waste 
 
Self-healing is a very common phenomenon in Nature. Many cells (eg. Xenopus oocyte and neurons) can self-repair after puncture. Our skin, muscle and bones can regenerate and self-repair following damage. Inspired by this phenomenon, man-made materials that offer self-healing capabilities through various stimuli have attracted increasing attention. Most self-healing materials are in the stage of laboratory research and development. One commercial product is “Scratch Shield” by Nissan Motor Cooperation, which is a clear-coat that can self-repair when scratched. However, currently available examples do either not show the desired healing capability in combination with other required material properties or are prohibitively expensive to widespread implementation.
 
In a wider context, enormous effort has been put into researching novel functional polymer materials from hydrocarbons such as crude oil, while little focus has been placed on using plastic waste as a starting material. Plastic materials have found broad use in many aspects of our life from shopping bags to high value engineering composites. With ample production, the need for efficient recycling of used plastic components is growing. In many developed countries, little of the plastic waste is reused, with most being sent to incineration or landfills. Many technical barriers hinder recycling, including sorting of different plastic types, and the associated high energy consumption. However, the main reason for low uptake of recycling is low value in contrast to high cost in reuse. Therefore, a conversion of plastic waste into self-healing plastics would undoubtedly improve the durability of essential systems whilst simultaneously reducing the waste produced during costly repair procedures. Thus, this project focuses on developing self-healing materials from polyethylene which is the most commonly used plastic, using supramolecular chemistry.
 
Publications: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5709-6566

Lixu Yang