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Photoresponsive Polymers for Autonomous Structural Materials with Controlled Toughening and Healing


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Self-healing polymers utilizing the Deils-Alder reaction have received considerable attention due the intrinsic healing capability of this crosslink. This research is studying the application of this crosslink in shape memory polymers to create adaptive materials that can respond to stimulus to recover strain and heal fracture. The past few years have seen a surge of research into autonomous materials; however, the resulting techniques are completely passive, cannot sense the presence of damage to allow a controlled response and cannot be performed during operation. To ensure that the structures health is maintained, it is imperative that viable methodologies be developed that evaluate the state of the structure while simultaneously providing a means to mitigate damage and recover the materials properties. In order to provide the fundamental materials to achieve such a system, polymers incorporating efficient reversible cycloaddition reactions are being developed. Our efforts have found that the irreversible Diels-Alder (DA) reaction between anthracene and maleimide moieties can be used to achieve healing efficiencies greater than 94% while remaining stable beyond 240 C. The self-healing polymer being studied here are obtained from liquid monomers allowing the polymerization of bulk samples that yield mechanical properties comparable to other engineering polymers.



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