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Polymers give early warning signs of stress

from Canadian Plastics

Getting advance warning when material in a plastic part is under stress has always been hit-or-miss: scientists have previously developed polymers that change their optical properties in response to mechanical stress, but the change is generally triggered by the breaking of molecular bonds within the material, so it can only happen once. Additionally, those bonds can also be broken by stimuli such as heat and light, resulting in false alarms. With these limitations in mind, researchers have devised a polymer with a new type of sensor molecule that can only be activated by mechanical force – it glows when it’s stretched, signaling that mechanical stress is building towards a catastrophic part failure. more

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