This review describes new types of smart materials that have the dual capabilities of responding to selective signals and providing an amplified response. Amplification arises from a signal-induced depolymerization reaction, where a single signaling event causes an entire polymer to convert to small molecules. When incorporated into a material, depolymerization of these polymers causes a change in shape, internal structure, or surfaces properties of the material. Moreover, the small molecules arising from depolymerization can play a role in the amplified response, particularly when they provide a secondary function (e.g., production of color or fluorescence). A brief overview of the current examples of linear depolymerizable polymers is provided, as are representative proof-of-concept applications of these polymers in the context of diagnostics and materials that remodel themselves and/or their surroundings. Together, these examples highlight the potential of this new class of polymers to provide unique and dramatic function to stimuli-responsive materials.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Polymers and Plastics
- Materials Chemistry