Engineering Well Tailored Sensors and Actuators for Synthetic Materials

Program Period: 
5/1/15 - 4/30/17

Evolve ‘smart’ polymers using a novel class of materials that are responsive to light or temperature as a first-step towards an NSF ERC or DARPA grant.

Materials of the future will require the capability to sense their environment and to respond to external stimuli via an active control mechanism (materials that mimic living systems and respond to their environment in order to repair themselves is one of the DOE’s Grand Challenges) . Such functional materials have been made possible by the development of stimuli-responsive compounds that can be incorporated into polymers, and can subsequently be controlled by pH, light, electricity, or heat. Despite progress, reliability gaps in stimuli-responsive compounds such as poor stability under UV or oxygen, present a serious impediment to the design and development of new smart materials. The goal of this program is to design, study, and develop new stimuli-responsive systems based on the novel class of thermo- and photo-chromic material recently developed at UCSB. Potential applications range from fundamental studies to applied chemistry, from the visualizing and mapping of stress on everyday polymeric material to the development of transdermal drug delivery systems with adaptive properties.

A major portion of the funds and effort will be used to expand the nucleus of PIs, positioning the team for future funding opportunities, starting with a mini-symposium at UCSB in Winter 2016 .