Mechanophores Makes Popular Mechanics' Top Ten
Mechanophores Makes Popular Mechanics’ Top Ten
Professor Scott White
“Mechanophores” – polymers that change colors when under stress – are among the top ten concepts Popular Mechanics’ website says you’ll need to know for 2011.The concept originated from the Autonomous Materials Systems Research group of AE Prof. Scott White and his collaborators.
According to the website, http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/engineering/news/10-tech-concepts-you-need-to-know-for-2011-2, “America's infrastructure needs renewal, but we can't just rebuild everything at once: We need effective ways to figure out which structures are closest to failure. One approach is to integrate tiny wireless sensors into new construction.
Another is to incorporate “mechanophores,” a class of materials recently developed at the University of Illinois that change color when they are stressed. Mechanophores could give an engineer a quick visual indication of whether a bridge is at risk and where the trouble lies. The researchers are currently working to tune the reaction so that it can occur at any desired level of stress. They also hope to develop new mechanophores that undergo a self-healing response when they are damaged.”
AE Affiliate: Nancy Sottos
White conducts the research with AE affiliate Nancy Sottos, a materials science professor, Jeffrey Moore, a chemistry professor, and Paul Braun of materials science.
Professor Paul Braun
Mechanically-active molecules in polymer materials, mechanophores undergo specific chemical reactions when pushed or pulled with a certain force. In critical material systems, such as polymers used in aircraft components, self-sensing and self-reinforcing capabilities could be used to report damage and warn of potential component failure, slow the spread of damage to extend a material’s lifetime, or even repair damage in early stages to avoid catastrophic failure.