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Polymers

Video: Stretchy polymer lights up under stress

Rotaxane structures stitched into the material could enable reversible, colorful force sensors

by Kerri Jansen
May 28, 2019

 

Credit: ACS Cent. Sci.

Materials that light up or change color in response to stress could enable responsive clothing or yield status reports on the condition of electronic skin. But many force-sensitive materials produce colors by breaking chemical bonds, making the changes hard to reverse and limiting the materials’ reusability. Now, an international team of researchers has made polyurethanes that glow a variety of colors when stretched and then instantly switch off when relaxed, thanks to mechanically interlocked molecular structures called rotaxanes (ACS Cent. Sci. 2019, DOI: 10.1021/acscentsci.9b00173). The team made blue-, green-, and orange-glowing polymers and combined them to produce a white one.

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“Loopster” by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

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Comments
Ron Masters (June 3, 2019 12:38 PM)
This is a very ingenious development. My editorial comment is that is seems to be more correct to use the word "reversibly fluoresces" instead of the words "lights up" in the title. These materials do not generate photons, but instead reversibly fluoresce under UV light stimulation when combined with mechanical stretching.
Michele Troutman (October 30, 2019 10:11 AM)
This is really cool. Possibly a new term for the stress and fluoresce mechanism is warranted. Fluorestressant? Polymerescence? Polymeresonescence? I also wonder if this phenomina exists in nature. For example are the pumpkin toadlets in Brazil just fluorescent or is there a stress factor involved in the mechanism?

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