From Molecules to Polymers—Harnessing Inter- and Intramolecular Interactions to Create Mechanochromic Materials

Hanna Traeger, Derek J. Kiebala, Christoph Weder, Stephen Schrettl

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


The development of mechanophores as building blocks that serve as predefined weak linkages has enabled the creation of mechanoresponsive and mechanochromic polymer materials, which are interesting for a range of applications including the study of biological specimens or advanced security features. In typical mechanophores, covalent bonds are broken when polymers that contain these chemical motifs are exposed to mechanical forces, and changes of the optical properties upon bond scission can be harnessed as a signal that enables the detection of applied mechanical stresses and strains. Similar chromic effects upon mechanical deformation of polymers can also be achieved without relying on the scission of covalent bonds. The dissociation of motifs that feature directional noncovalent interactions, the disruption of aggregated molecules, and conformational changes in molecules or polymers constitute an attractive element for the design of mechanoresponsive and mechanochromic materials. In this article, it is reviewed how such alterations of molecules and polymers can be exploited for the development of mechanochromic materials that signal deformation without breaking covalent bonds. Recent illustrative examples are highlighted that showcase how the use of such mechanoresponsive motifs enables the visual mapping of stresses and damage in a reversible and highly sensitive manner.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2000573
JournalMacromolecular Rapid Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • color change
  • luminescence
  • mechanochromic polymers
  • mechanoresponsive polymers
  • noncovalent interactions
  • polymer materials
  • stimuli responsive polymers


Dive into the research topics of 'From Molecules to Polymers—Harnessing Inter- and Intramolecular Interactions to Create Mechanochromic Materials'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this