Supported by a World Bank loan, the State Key Laboratory of Polymer Materials Engineering (SKLPME) was set up in 1991 as one of seven national pilot laboratories under the Key Discipline Development Project. It was the first state key laboratory in polymer materials and is now one of the largest polymer research and educational bases in the world.
Geared towards frontier sciences and responding to the demands of national economic development, SKLPME’s research focuses on the structure and properties of polymers, polymer-based functional composites, polymer material processing theories and related technologies and production. Its influential research results are revealed in numerous publications in high-quality international journals and have earned many national science and technology awards, as well as domestic and international patents. The laboratory ranks first globally in the polymer science discipline in terms of the number of papers published in journals listed in SCI.
SKLPME researchers are at the forefront of the revolutionary technology in polymer processing — the micro-nano laminated composite. High-performance materials in nature usually have complicated multi-layer structures. To improve polymer properties, a team led by Guo Shaoyun successfully designed an apparatus to fabricate micro-nano laminated composite materials, the first to continuously and steadily extrude polymer materials with more than 30,000 layers. “Our multi-layer composite materials have many advantages over traditional materials and wide industrial applications,” says Guo. “Our research also enables a closer look at how to optimize properties of common polymer materials.”
Other examples of SKLPME discoveries include finding how low-dimensional carbonaceous nanofiller induced polymer crystallization dynamically; developing technologies for the synthesis of styrenic thermoplastic elastomer and related products; inventing a device that enables in-process morphology control of the polymer injection moulding; and advancing plastic tubing extrusion technologies. Many of the SKLPME technologies are translated into lucrative products, such as the world-leading graphene rubber composites and tyres, China’s first blood dialyzer based on polyether sulphone (PES) and new technology for complete sets of lithium battery diaphragm.
SKLPME has also collaborated with institutions in the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States and many countries in Europe to conduct research on polymer processing and develop high-performance polymer materials. The construction of four international collaborative research platforms has raised its international profile, making it a global centre for polymer material research, integrating discovery, student training and technological applications.