Rapid stiffening of a microfluidic endoskeleton via frontal polymerization

Ian D. Robertson, Hector Lopez Hernandez, Scott R. White, Jeffrey S. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Materials capable of rapidly modifying their physical properties in response to stimuli are desirable for on-demand deployment and adaptive engineering structures. Frontal polymerization is a self-propagating reaction that can quickly transform liquid reactants into solid products. In this contribution, we demonstrate that frontal polymerization enables facile, rapid stiffening of a vascular network embedded in a flexible matrix. Systematic variation of the vascular architecture shows that polymerization fronts in a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) matrix are self-propagating in channels as small as 838 μm and even when curves, branch points and converging geometries are present. After polymerization the composite structure was dramatically stiffened (up to 18 times the original Young's modulus) based on tensile testing results. This work demonstrates the use of frontal polymerization as an efficient methodology for transforming flexible materials into functional supports or surfaces through endoskeletal stiffening.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18469-18474
Number of pages6
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 12 2014


  • frontal polymerization
  • microfluidic endoskeleton
  • rapid stiffening
  • shape fixing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science


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