Using Theory and Simulation to Design Active Materials with Sensory and Adaptive Capabilities
Final rept. Jun 2011-Jun 2014
PITTSBURGH UNIVERSITY PA OFFICE OF RESEARCH
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Our aim was to design soft, active materials that 1 function in an autonomous, self-sustained way, 2 perform multiple, complex functions, and 3 alter their functionality in a programmable manner in response to external stimuli. We took advantage of the unique properties offered by polymer gels undergoing the Belousov-Zhabotinsky BZ reaction. The BZ gels can transduce chemical energy into mechanical oscillations in the absence of external stimuli. Consequently, these polymer networks can perform autonomous mechanical work. The ruthenium catalyst, which drives the BZ reaction, is typically uniformly distributed within the gel so the material is chemically and physically homogeneous. A level of structural heterogeneity and hierarchy is, however, generally necessary for materials to display higher order or complex functionality. For this reason, we focused on designing heterogeneous or chemically patterned BZ gels, where the catalyst is confined to distinct patches BZ patches within the polymer network. Such heterogeneous gels provide a route for controlling the dynamic behavior and thus, the properties of the system. Furthermore, a number of functions can be integrated within one sample.
- Polymer Chemistry
- Miscellaneous Materials