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Sara Turner
Sara Turner

Today, manufacturing drives 19 percent of North Carolina’s gross domestic product and employs more than 338,000 workers. The state is ranked ninth nationally in total manufacturing employment and first in the southeastern United States.

Industries have pursued technologies that minimize the energy and resources necessary to make products in order to lower costs and fulfill consumer demand for “greener” manufacturing.

Chemistry doctoral student Sara Turner is working to bring North Carolina to the forefront of this growing industry.

Turner has developed a type of adhesive that could aid tremendously in automated production processes: a reusable material capable of de-bonding (un-gluing) and re-bonding (re-gluing) on demand in response to applied heat. This adhesive allows for remote repair of complex structural components in bonded parts by simple heating, and in the disassembly of bonded components at the end of their lifetime during recycling. The material, composed of “spaghetti-like” polymer molecules, also maintains its original strength after multiple de-bonding and re-bonding cycles. The design and implementation of robust new technologies such as Turner’s adhesive will ensure that North Carolina is a top player in the green manufacturing industry.

Turner is one of the winners of the 2015 Graduate Education Advancement Board (GEAB) Impact Awards, which recognize graduate students for contributions they are making to the state of North Carolina.

“Sara’s results are an important advance in the field of dynamic adhesives and represent a step forward for manufacturing processes,” said adviser Valerie Ashby, Ph.D.

The 2015 GEAB Impact Awards will be formally recognized at the 17th Annual Graduate Student Recognition Celebration, to be held from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. April 9 at the George Watts Hill Alumni Center. More info on this event is at gradschool.unc.edu.

Read about all the Impact Award winners, including many from the College. 

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