Mechanically responsive and mechanically adapting polymers

Reducing the activation stress threshold of mechanoresponsive materials

Project leader: C. Weder

Team: N. Bruns, A. Fink, K. Fromm, H.-A. Klok, B. Rothen-Rutishauser, A. Studart

Mechanochemical transduction processes are omnipresent in nature, where a surprisingly small set of molecular building blocks serves as basis for countless materials and systems which offer adaptive and adapting properties essential for biological functions. However, it was only recently that the idea to harness the mechanically induced dissociation of weak bonds to create artificial materials that display useful macroscopic responses has gained some traction. However, in most materials reported to date, this is achieved through the cleavage of covalent bonds. By contrast, and more in line with the mechanisms at play in biological models this project seeks to exploit non-covalent interactions to translate mechanical stresses into prede­fi­ned events on the molecular level, which in turn are designed to cause useful bulk property changes. The overarching goal is to introduce a new family of mechano­chromic materials which change their color upon application of a mechanical force. This activity will be comple­men­ted with efforts to develop new materials whose mechanical properties can be changed on demand as the key objective of this project is to explore ap­proaches that permit altering the mechanics and/or shape of polymer objects under physiological conditions.

Main investigator

Involved people