A new generation of polymeric materials is needed promptly that does not behave like traditional commodity plastics in terms of environmental interaction, degradation pattern, fragmentation tendency, and biological persistency. I herein propose a new paradigm in the design of polymeric materials; the design of polymeric materials through a retro-structural approach where the macroscopic performance is translated to every scale level of structural order so that appropriate molecular recognitions are identified and subsequently synthetically generated in a bottom-up procedure. Inspiration on how to design such materials is best drawn from Nature which is unsurpassed in its ability to combine molecular building blocks into perfectly designed versatile super- and supramolecular structures with well-defined properties, disassembly patterns, and biological functions. A closer look into the structural build-up of biological materials gives important clues on how to design synthetic functional materials with desirable environmental interaction. In addition to advanced synthesis, surface modification and processing, the materials and their degradation behavior will be thoroughly characterized by using traditional characterization techniques in combination with latest spectroscopic and imaging techniques. I have chosen to focus on two areas that stand out as highly prioritized in maintaining or even raising our quality of life; sustainable materials for commodity applications and tissue engineering systems in biomaterials science. This is a bold high risk proposal which if successful will have a ground-breaking influence on how we design polymeric materials.
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