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Issue 23, 2011
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The physical chemistry of mechanoresponsive polymers

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Abstract

Stretching a polymer can accelerate chemical reactions of its monomers by many orders of magnitude. Exploiting such effects may enable materials scientists to engineer a material's response to mesoscopic loads at the single-monomer level. Such mechanochemical coupling underlies diverse phenomena including the operation of actuating polymers, the catastrophic failure of strained materials, the behaviour of polymer flows and chemical mechanosensing. Yet, our conceptual understanding of this coupling, which cannot be described either by continuum mechanics or chemical kinetics alone, is very limited. A general, physically sound and quantitative model to relate structural distortion at any length scale to reaction rates is needed to facilitate the design of new mechanoresponsive polymers. This article reviews the state-of-the-art recent efforts to understand the physical chemistry of such polymers, particularly the effect of mechanical loads on the reactivity of its building blocks.

Graphical abstract: The physical chemistry of mechanoresponsive polymers

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Article information


Submitted
24 Nov 2010
Accepted
02 Mar 2011
First published
14 Apr 2011

J. Mater. Chem., 2011,21, 8237-8255
Article type
Feature Article

The physical chemistry of mechanoresponsive polymers

T. J. Kucharski and R. Boulatov, J. Mater. Chem., 2011, 21, 8237
DOI: 10.1039/C0JM04079G

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