Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

See the Force: Mechanical Stress Leads to Self-sensing in Solid Polymers

15.05.2009
Parachute cords, climbing ropes, and smart coatings for bridges that change color when overstressed are several possible uses for force-sensitive polymers being developed by researchers at the University of Illinois.

The polymers contain mechanically active molecules called mechanophores. When pushed or pulled with a certain force, specific chemical reactions are triggered in the mechanophores.

“This offers a new way to build function directly into synthetic materials,” said Nancy Sottos, a Willett Professor of materials science and engineering at the U. of I. “And it opens the door to creating mechanophores that can perform different responsive functions, including self-sensing and self-reinforcing, when stressed.”

In previous work, Sottos and collaborators showed they could use mechanical force to induce a reaction in mechanophore-linked polymers that were in solution. Now, as reported in the May 7 issue of the journal Nature, the researchers show they can perform a similar feat in a solid polymer.

Mechanically induced chemical activation (also known as mechanochemical transduction) enables an extraordinary range of physiological processes, including the senses of touch, hearing and balance, as well as growth and remodeling of tissue and bone.

Analogous to the responsive behavior of biological systems, the channeling of mechanical energy to selectively trigger a reaction that alters or enhances a material’s properties is being harnessed by the U. of I. researchers.

In critical material systems, such as polymers used in aircraft components self-sensing and self-reinforcing capabilities could be used to report damage and warn of potential component failure, slow the spread of damage to extend a material’s lifetime, or even repair damage in early stages to avoid catastrophic failure.

“By coupling mechanical energy directly to structural response, the desired functionality could be precisely linked to the triggering stimulus,” said Sottos, who also is affiliated with the university’s Beckman Institute.

In their work, the researchers used molecules called spiropyrans, a promising class of molecular probes that serve as color-generating mechanophores, capable of vivid color changes when they undergo mechanochemical change. Normally colorless, the spiropyran used in the experiments turns red or purple when exposed to certain levels of mechanical stress.

“Mechanical stress induces a ring-opening reaction of the spiropyran that changes the color of the material,” said Douglas Davis, a graduate research assistant and the paper’s lead author. “The reaction is reversible, so we can repeat the opening and closing of the mechanophore.”

“Spiropyrans can serve as molecular probes to aid in understanding the effects of stress and accumulated damage in polymeric materials, thereby providing an opportunity for assessment, modification and improvement prior to failure,” Davis said.

To demonstrate the mechanochemical response, the researchers prepared two different mechanophore-linked polymers and subjected them to different levels of mechanical stress.

In one polymer, an elastomer, the material was stretched until it broke in two. A vivid color change in the polymer occurred just before it snapped.

The second polymer was formed into rigid beads several hundred microns in diameter. When the beads were squeezed, they changed from colorless to purple.

The color change that took place within both polymers could serve as a good indicator of how much stress a mechanical part or structural component made of the material had undergone.

“We’ve moved very seamlessly from chemistry to materials, and from materials we are now moving into engineering applications,” Sottos said. “With a deeper understanding of mechanophore design rules and efficient chemical response pathways, we envision new classes of dynamically responsive polymers that locally remodel, reorganize or even regenerate via mechanical regulation.”

In addition to Sottos and Davis, the paper’s co-authors include materials science and engineering professor Paul Braun, chemistry professors Todd Martinez and Jeffrey Moore, and aerospace engineering professor Scott White, as well as members of their research groups.

The work was funded by the U.S. Army Research Office MURI program.

Editor’s notes: To reach Nancy Sottos, call 217-333-1041; e-mail: n-sottos@illinois.edu.

Video showing force-induced color change in a mechanophore cross-linked polymer bead under compressive loading (left) and corresponding force-displacment curve (right).

http://news.illinois.edu/WebsandThumbs/Sottos,Nancy/Video%20S7.mov

James E. Kloeppel | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.illinois.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Nanostructures taste the rainbow
29.06.2017 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy under real ambient pressure conditions
28.06.2017 | National Institutes of Natural Sciences

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making Waves

Computer scientists use wave packet theory to develop realistic, detailed water wave simulations in real time. Their results will be presented at this year’s SIGGRAPH conference.

Think about the last time you were at a lake, river, or the ocean. Remember the ripples of the water, the waves crashing against the rocks, the wake following...

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nanostructures taste the rainbow

29.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New technique unveils 'matrix' inside tissues and tumors

29.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Cystic fibrosis alters the structure of mucus in airways

29.06.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>