Responsive Polymers as Sensors, Muscles, and Self-Healing Materials

  • Qiang Matthew Zhang
  • Michael J. SerpeEmail author
Part of the Topics in Current Chemistry book series (TOPCURRCHEM, volume 369)


Responsive polymer-based materials can adapt to their surrounding environment by expanding and shrinking. This swelling and shrinking (mechanotransduction) can result in a number of functions. For example, the response can be used to lift masses, move objects, and can be used for sensing certain species in a system. Furthermore, responsive polymers can also yield materials capable of self-healing any damage affecting their mechanical properties. In this chapter we detail many examples of how mechanical responses can be triggered by external electric and/or magnetic fields, hygroscopicity, pH, temperature, and many other stimuli. We highlight how the specific responses can be used for artificial muscles, self-healing materials, and sensors, with particular focus on detailing the polymer response yielding desired effects.


Artificial muscles Mechanochemistry Responsive polymers Self-healing materials Sensors 



MJS acknowledges funding from the University of Alberta (the Department of Chemistry and the Faculty of Science), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the Alberta Advanced Education & Technology Small Equipment Grants Program (AET/SEGP), Grand Challenges Canada, and IC-IMPACTS.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ChemistryUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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