Mechanochromic polymers are, in the strictest sense of the definition, macromolecular materials, which change their absorption color in response to mechanical action. More broadly defined, polymeric materials that change their emission or reflection color are also included. The term “piezochromic polymer” is often used as a synonym, but strictly speaking it defines the subset of mechanochromic materials that respond to pressure.
The visualization of mechanical stresses in polymeric materials by optical changes is useful for a broad range of applications that range from structural health monitoring to tamper-evidencing packaging to piezochromic pressure sensors. In the past two decades, several design approaches have been developed that allow one to bestow polymers or polymer systems with mechanochromic characteristics, i.e., the propensity to change their optical absorption, emission, and/or reflection characteristics in response...
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