According to ScienceDirect, “Photopolymerization is a technique that uses light (visible or ultraviolet) to initiate and propagate a reaction to form a linear or cross-linked polymer structure.”
It’s a significant area of focus for researchers and developers, as it allow for production of materials with customized properties.
In microelectronics, for example, scientists are able to manipulate the physical properties of polymer networks to improve adhesion and solvent resistance by exposing the material to light sources.
If you think that’s impressive, continue reading for three other interesting photopolymerization applications.
1. Photopolymers in Adhesive and Coatings
The development of photopolymerizable materials for non-imaging applications represents significant progress for protective adhesives, coatings and inks.
Inkjet, for example, is a digital printing process in which photopolymers can be applied directly onto paper, plastic and other substrates to render images and features. The material is cured and solidified by ultraviolet light to build layers on top of each other.
Materials can also be applied via needle dispense. And since there are many types of inkjettable photopolymers with different properties, it’s possible to customize to the particular application of interest.
2. Photopolymers in Manufacturing
It’s the process in which computer-aided exposure technologies convert liquid monomers into solid objects through light-initiated reactions. The photopolymers are resins that can create a wide variety of parts.
Scott Turner, Senior Researcher at 3D Systems, is quoted in an Engineering.com article saying, “Modern manufacturing companies are looking for ways to transition their tooling assets from physical to digital, so they can be deployed when and where needed.”
Thanks to 3D printing, developers are able design and create parts much faster than conventional manufacturing methods.
3. Photopolymers in Microelectronics
Photopolymers play a critical role in the advancement of the microelectronics industry. There are two major applications for photopolymers: photoresists and permanent photopolymers.
Photoresists are used to create the very fine circuitry found in microelectronics. However, they’re not part of the final device. Permanent photopolymers, on the other hand, are part of the final device, and can serve as dielectric materials in displays and chips. In both cases, the materials are designed to change their properties upon irradiation (exposure to light).
This irradiation can cause the materials to change properties, including solubility.
Looking in the future, the ability to manipulate photopolymers opens up exciting possibilities for potential applications.
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