Kohzo Ito, professor at Tokyo University and director of Advanced Softmaterials Inc. gave a plenary lecture on the 20th International Cyclodextrin Symposium in Sicily on cyclodextrin-based soft/tough materials such as slide ring gels and their applications. He is the program manager of the ‘Realizing Ultra-thin and Flexible Tough “Shinayaka polymers”‘, one of the projects of the Impulsing Paradigm Change through Disruptive Technologies (ImPACT) Program aiming to develop tough polymers for the car industry. He has 13 patents and 21 patent applications (USPO, last accessed 22 June 2022). His publications have been well cited: number of citations on Google Scholar accessed on 22 June 2022 is 11790 (h-index 52) with 2 papers over 1000 citations [1,2].
He invented the slide-ring gels in 1999, which show mechanical properties and nanoscopic structures quite different from conventional chemical and physical gels. Slide-ring materials are a groundbreaking supramolecular material technology that has realized a molecule-sized mechanism in which the cross-linking point can move. This mechanism has already been applied in several fields to make use of its features.
The concept of freely movable junctions is incorporated into polymeric materials without solvent such as films, textiles, paints, and so on. The slide rings have self healing properties: they self heal the small scrathes on painted surfaces , e.g. of cars. The smart paint ensures that the scratched surface will return to its original state overnight or up to a week’s time depending on temperature and the depth of the scratch.
In addition to the slide-ring gels which are now used by the big car companies in Japan, Prof. Ito’s team has prepared free-standing nanosheets using topological self-assembly of β-CD and poly(ethylene oxide)75-b-poly(propylene oxide)29-b-poly(ethylene oxide)75 (EO75PO29EO75) triblock copolymer, namely, pseudopolyrotaxane (PPR) nanosheet by hierarchically ordered supramolecular self-assembly (Fig. below).
- Y Okumura, K Ito: The polyrotaxane gel: a topological gel by figure‐of‐eight cross‐links. Advanced materials 13 (7), 485-487 (Citations: 1718)
- JP Hill, W Jin, A Kosaka, T Fukushima, H Ichihara, T Shimomura, K Ito Self-assembled hexa-peri-hexabenzocoronene graphitic nanotube. Science 304 (5676), 1481-1483