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Published December 15, 2016 | public
Journal Article

Polymers with autonomous life-cycle control


The lifetime of man-made materials is controlled largely by the wear and tear of everyday use, environmental stress and unexpected damage, which ultimately lead to failure and disposal. Smart materials that mimic the ability of living systems to autonomously protect, report, heal and even regenerate in response to damage could increase the lifetime, safety and sustainability of many manufactured items. There are several approaches to achieving these functions using polymer-based materials, but making them work in highly variable, real-world situations is proving challenging.

Additional Information

© 2016 Macmillan Publishers Limited. Received 11 March; accepted 12 October 2016.. J.F.P. and M.J.R. are grateful to the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation for financial support through the Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. The authors thank the Air Force Office of Scientific Research for support through the Center of Excellence in Self-Healing, Regeneration, and Structural Remodeling, the National Science Foundation (DMR 1307354), the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (FA8650-13-C-7347) and the BP International Center for Advanced Materials (ICAM). We are grateful to D. Loudermilk, C. Klinger, A. Jerez and I. Patrick for assistance with graphics, and G. Wilson and M. Andersson for insightful discussions. Competing interests: S.R.W., N.R.S. and J.S.M. have a financial interest in the start-up company AMI, which is mentioned as one of the examples of commercialization activities in the field of self-healing.

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