Reversible Reactions, Mesh Size, and Segmental Dynamics Control Penetrant Diffusion in Ethylene Vitrimers

Junrou Huang, Grant S. Sheridan, Chen Chen, Nabil Ramlawi, Randy H. Ewoldt, Paul V. Braun, Christopher M. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The diffusion of two aromatic dyes with nearly identical sizes was measured in ethylene vitrimers with precise linker lengths and borate ester cross-links using fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP). One dye possessed a reactive hydroxyl group, while the second was inert. The reaction of the hydroxyl group with the network is slow relative to the hopping times of the dye, resulting in a large slowdown by a factor of 50 for a reactive probe molecule. A kinetic model was fit to the fluorescence intensity data to determine rate constants for the reversible reaction of the dye from the network, which confirms the role of slow reaction kinetics. A second network cross-linker was also investigated with a substituted boronic ester showing ∼10,000 times faster exchange kinetics. In this system, the two dyes show the same diffusion coefficient, as the reaction is no longer the rate-limiting step. The role of dense meshes on small and large dyes is also discussed in the context of the existing theories. These results highlight the potential of dynamic networks to control penetrant transport through synergistic effects of the mesh size, dynamic bond kinetics, and penetrant-network interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)901-907
Number of pages7
JournalACS Macro Letters
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 18 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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