Stressed Polymers – Exploiting Tension in Soft Matter

Mechanical stress is integral to all living and many synthetic systems, from cells and muscles to catalysts and elastomers. It underpins the most common types of actions, responses, and stimuli. The fundamental goal of this MIRT is to develop new principles in soft materials design, where inherent mechanical stress is generated, managed, and harvested by molecular engineering. One specific goal is to explore the interplay between the macroscopic stress and the chemistry of addressable chemical bonds. Novel materials functions will be made possible through controlled self-generation of bond tension and the intelligent processing of both internal and external stress into activation of specific chemical bonds. The other goal is to design multifunctional objects that autonomously change their shape, surface structure, mechanical, and optical properties. The Team will design the next generation of shape-memory particles and substrates, designed to store mechanical stress and focus it at the molecular level via controlled strain release. The outlined goals will be achieved through interdisciplinary research, international collaboration, and interactive teamwork of synthetic chemists, experimental and theoretical physicist, and engineers across three campuses of UNC, CMU and Duke University.

Follow this link for more about the NSF Award for MIRT at UNC-CH.