DOI: 10.1002/adma.202309662 ISSN: 0935-9648

A Self‐Healing System for Polydicyclopentadiene Thermosets

Young Bum Lee, Benjamin A. Suslick, Derek de Jong, Gerald O. Wilson, Jeffrey S. Moore, Nancy R. Sottos, Paul V. Braun
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • General Materials Science


Self‐healing offers promise for addressing structural failures, increasing lifespan, and improving durability in polymeric materials. Implementing self‐healing in thermoset polymers faces significant manufacturing challenges, especially due to elevated temperature requirements of thermoset processing. To introduce self‐healing into structural thermosets, the self‐healing system must be thermally stable and compatible with the thermoset chemistry. Here we demonstrate a self‐healing microcapsule‐based system stable to frontal polymerization (FP), a rapid and energy‐efficient manufacturing process with a self‐propagating exothermic reaction (≈ 200 °C). A thermally latent Grubbs‐type complex bearing two N‐heterocyclic carbene ligands addresses limitations in conventional G2‐based self‐healing approaches. Under FP's elevated temperatures, the catalyst remained dormant until activated by the Cu(I) co‐reagent, ensuring efficient polymerization of the dicyclopentadiene (DCPD) upon damage to the polyDCPD matrix. The two‐part microcapsule system consisted of one capsule containing the thermally latent Grubbs‐type catalyst dissolved in the solvent, and another capsule containing a Cu(I) coagent blended with liquid DCPD monomer. Using same chemistry for both matrix fabrication and healing resulted in strong interfaces as demonstrated by lap‐shear tests. In an optimized system, the self‐healing system restored the mechanical properties of the tough polyDCPD thermoset. Self‐healing efficiencies greater than 90% via tapered double cantilever beam tests were observed.

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