Spiropyran (SP) mechanophores (mechanochemically reactive units) can impart the unique functionality of visual stress detection to polymers and have potential for use in smart materials with self-sensing capabilities. These color-generating mechanophores were incorporated into polyurethane via step growth polymerization. Polyurethane, which is inherently a versatile engineering polymer, possesses an optimized balance of mechanical toughness and elasticity to allow for investigation of the kinetics of the mechanochemical response of the SP mechanophore in the bulk polymer via fluorescence and absorbance measurements. The stress-induced 6-π electrocyclic ring-opening to the colored merocyanine (MC) form of the mechanophore was quantified by measuring the change in absorbance of the polymer, while it was held at constant strain. The closing kinetics of the mechanophore was also studied by fluorescence imaging. Finally, the effects of mechanical strain on the equilibrium between the SP and MC forms are reported and discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry