Covalent Mechanochemistry and Contemporary Polymer Network Chemistry: A Marriage in the Making

Evan M. Lloyd, Jafer R. Vakil, Yunxin Yao, Nancy R. Sottos, Stephen L. Craig

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Over the past 20 years, the field of polymer mechanochemistry has amassed a toolbox of mechanophores that translate mechanical energy into a variety of functional responses ranging from color change to small-molecule release. These productive chemical changes typically occur at the length scale of a few covalent bonds (Å) but require large energy inputs and strains on the micro-to-macro scale in order to achieve even low levels of mechanophore activation. The minimal activation hinders the translation of the available chemical responses into materials and device applications. The mechanophore activation challenge inspires core questions at yet another length scale of chemical control, namely: What are the molecular-scale features of a polymeric material that determine the extent of mechanophore activation? Further, how do we marry advances in the chemistry of polymer networks with the chemistry of mechanophores to create stress-responsive materials that are well suited for an intended application? In this Perspective, we speculate as to the potential match between covalent polymer mechanochemistry and recent advances in polymer network chemistry, specifically, topologically controlled networks and the hierarchical material responses enabled by multi-network architectures and mechanically interlocked polymers. Both fundamental and applied opportunities unique to the union of these two fields are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)751-768
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 18 2023
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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