Fluorescent Ionic Probe for Determination of Mechanical Properties of Healed Poly(ethylene--methacrylic acid) Ionomer Films

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In recent years, advanced materials with properties resembling biological systems, particularly artificial muscles, have received intense scrutiny. This is because the interesting conformational shape characteristics of such materials have benefited a variety of technologies, including textiles, 3D printing, and medical devices. Although a multitude of shape memory properties have been studied and developed in recent years, self-healing of these polymers after puncture or rupture has also become a major area of study. Most techniques for detection of such processes are mechanically based and require considerable hands-on monitoring. Thus, a rapid visual detection method for self-healing is highly desirable. Herein, we describe fluorescence studies for rapid detection of self-healing properties of a partially neutralized sodium ionomer poly(ethylene--methacrylic acid) (PEMA). In this study, two different fluorophores, parent non-ionic 4,6-dipyrenylpyrimidine and ionic 4,6-dipyrenylpyrimidinium iodide fluorophores, were evaluated as possible sensors of self-healing. Incorporation of these probes via solution blending and compatibility into a PEMA of these fluorophores were evaluated. Thermal characterizations using differential scanning calorimetry were also performed to elucidate physical characteristics of healed sites. Ratiometric fluorescence emission variations were explored within puncture-healed ionomer films and related to Young's modulus properties with good linearity, indicating potential utility of this approach for monitoring elastic modulus properties after healing has occurred. Further statistical analyses of mechanical processes using quadratic discriminant analysis resulted in development of several highly accurate predictive models for determining time since damage healing.

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ACS applied polymer materials

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