Stratification, Stimuli-Responsiveness, Self-healing, and Signaling in Polymer Networks

Marek W. Urban, University of Southern Mississippi

Originally published in Progress in Polymer Science, Volume 34, Issue 8, August 2009, Pages 679–687

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The design, development, and manufacturing of new materials continue to be an ongoing challenge for scientists and engineers. Because of similarities to biological systems having self-repairable properties, polymer networks are of particular importance and interest, and if designed properly, may provide an unprecedented opportunity for mimicking biological systems. This can be accomplished through the formation of nanostructured stimuli-responsive networks that individually or collectively respond to internal or external stimuli. This article outlines selected recent developments and future trends that will formulate foundation for the development of stratified heterogeneous stimuli-responsive polymer networks capable of reorganizing, self-healing, or signaling. The primary focus is on the physico-chemical attributes of multi-component polymer networks with localized glass transition temperatures capable of stratification and exhibiting stimuli-responsiveness or recognition attributes.