Polyimide is an extremely resistant material with a high level of stability. However, they are difficult to process and bring them into the correct shape. Miriam Unterlass from the Institute of Materials Chemistry at the Vienna University of Technology has now developed a new method of synthesis which opens up completely new possibilities for this type of material.
Two different molecules, which usually combine in a rather disorganized manner, are allowed to react with each other in a gel. The viscous gel slows down the reaction, thus producing well-ordered, angular salt crystals with an average diameter of hundreds of micrometers. If the crystals are heated, they are turned into polyimide, but retain their angular shape. The scientists expect that the same method can be used to synthesize other high-performance materials.