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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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 the 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. This article demonstrates 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 remains dormant until activated by a Cu(I) co-reagent, ensuring efficient polymerization of the dicyclopentadiene (DCPD) upon damage to the polyDCPD matrix. The two-part microcapsule system consists 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 the same chemistry for both matrix fabrication and healing results in strong interfaces as demonstrated by lap-shear tests. In an optimized system, the self-healing system restores the mechanical properties of the tough polyDCPD thermoset. Self-healing efficiencies greater than 90% via tapered double cantilever beam tests are observed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2309662
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number11
Early online dateDec 13 2023
StatePublished - Mar 14 2024


  • Frontal polymerization
  • Microcapsule
  • Ring Opening Metathesis Polymerization
  • Self-healing
  • Thermal stability
  • thermal stability
  • microcapsule
  • frontal polymerization
  • ring-opening metathesis polymerization
  • self-healing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • General Materials Science


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