PerspectiveMaterials Science

Toward Recyclable Thermosets

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Science  16 May 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6185, pp. 706-707
DOI: 10.1126/science.1254401

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Recycling codes on plastic food and beverage packaging serve to guide consumers' daily decisions about the disposal of used packaging. However, technological obstacles remain for the recycling of more sophisticated polymeric packaging, ranging from multilayered food packaging to composite polymeric materials for electronic packaging. Moreover, many electronic devices contain heat-resistant, chemically stable polymers called thermosets that are not amenable to conventional collecting and recycling. On page 732 of this issue, García et al. (1) report a crucial step toward recyclable thermosets with the synthesis of ductile, insulating, temperature-resistant, and chemically inert thermosets that can be returned to their monomeric state through a pH trigger.