Review Article | Published:

Polymers with autonomous life-cycle control

Nature volume 540, pages 363370 (15 December 2016) | Download Citation

Abstract

The lifetime of man-made materials is controlled largely by the wear and tear of everyday use, environmental stress and unexpected damage, which ultimately lead to failure and disposal. Smart materials that mimic the ability of living systems to autonomously protect, report, heal and even regenerate in response to damage could increase the lifetime, safety and sustainability of many manufactured items. There are several approaches to achieving these functions using polymer-based materials, but making them work in highly variable, real-world situations is proving challenging.

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Acknowledgements

J.F.P. and M.J.R. are grateful to the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation for financial support through the Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. The authors thank the Air Force Office of Scientific Research for support through the Center of Excellence in Self-Healing, Regeneration, and Structural Remodeling, the National Science Foundation (DMR 1307354), the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (FA8650–13-C-7347) and the BP International Center for Advanced Materials (ICAM). We are grateful to D. Loudermilk, C. Klinger, A. Jerez and I. Patrick for assistance with graphics, and G. Wilson and M. Andersson for insightful discussions.

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Affiliations

  1. Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA.

    • Jason F. Patrick
    • , Maxwell J. Robb
    • , Nancy R. Sottos
    • , Jeffrey S. Moore
    •  & Scott R. White
  2. Department of Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA.

    • Maxwell J. Robb
    •  & Jeffrey S. Moore
  3. Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA.

    • Nancy R. Sottos
  4. Department of Aerospace Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA.

    • Scott R. White

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Competing interests

S.R.W., N.R.S. and J.S.M. have a financial interest in the start-up company AMI, which is mentioned as one of the examples of commercialization activities in the field of self-healing.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Scott R. White.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nature21002

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