Identifying Internal Stresses during Mechanophore Activation

Mitchell L. Rencheck, Brandon T. Mackey, Yu Yang Hu, Chia Chih Chang, Michael D. Sangid, Chelsea S. Davis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Mechanophores (MPs) undergo chemical reactions to become fluorescent in response to a mechanical stimulus that reflects the magnitude and distribution of applied stress. MPs are an emerging technology for self-reporting damage sensing applications in polymeric materials in the aeronautical, energy generation, and automotive industries. However, quantitative calibration of the MP response to local stresses remains an outstanding challenge. Herein, a method to calibrate the intensity of the MP fluorescent activation (I) with local hydrostatic stresses (σh) is presented. Uniaxial tension is applied to a simple composite comprised of a rigid sphere (silica) embedded in a MP-functionalized elastomeric matrix (spiropyran (SPN) functionalized polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS)). By monitoring the fluorescence intensity with a confocal microscope while a quasi-static deformation is applied, in situ observations of MP activation as a function of applied uniaxial strain are obtained. To calculate the associated stress fields, a finite element analysis (FEA) with cohesive zone elements is employed. By comparing σh, calculated through FEA with the I of the PDMS/SPN system, a linear relationship between I and σh is directly determined. The technique presented can be employed for many MP-containing materials systems to calibrate I to σh.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAdvanced Engineering Materials
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • finite element analysis
  • mechanophore
  • mechanophore activation
  • stimuli-responsive
  • stress quantification


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