Emerging Applications of Stimuli-responsive Polymer Materials

Marek W. Urban, University of Southern Mississippi

Originally published in Nature Materials, 9, 101–113 (2010)

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Abstract

Responsive polymer materials can adapt to surrounding environments, regulate transport of ions and molecules, change wettability and adhesion of different species on external stimuli, or convert chemical and biochemical signals into optical, electrical, thermal and mechanical signals, and vice versa. These materials are playing an increasingly important part in a diverse range of applications, such as drug delivery, diagnostics, tissue engineering and 'smart' optical systems, as well as biosensors, microelectromechanical systems, coatings and textiles. We review recent advances and challenges in the developments towards applications of stimuli-responsive polymeric materials that are self-assembled from nanostructured building blocks. We also provide a critical outline of emerging developments.