A straightforward way for the preparation of mechanochromic polymers consists of incorporating a suitable content of a mechanophore in the polymeric matrix either by physical dispersion or via covalent functionalization. Although covalent incorporation may require demanding chemical efforts, this approach can offer significant advantages over physical dispersion. In this work, a common thermoplastic elastomer, styrene-b-(ethylene-co-butylene)-b-styrene triblock copolymer grafted with maleic anhydride (SEBS-MAH), was covalently functionalized with 1-aminomethylpyrene (AMP). MAH functional groups are covalently linked to the ethylene-co-butylene blocks, thus allowing a precise and selective confinement of the chromogenic AMP units in the soft block. Flat, fully conjugated pyrene units undergo the reversible formation of π-πaggregates, readily distinguishable by their red-shifted emission. These aggregates were heavily affected by the application of mechanical stimuli. Despite the low degree of mechanophore functionalization (about 1 wt %), uniaxial deformation of the polymer was reliably monitored via fluorescence and a clear drop in the excimer to monomer emission ratio (IE/IM) was observed starting from 50% of strain. The marked mechanochromism was confirmed by emission lifetime measurements and also by near-field investigations. In addition, the mechanoresponse showed good reversibility after repeated stress-relaxation cycles. Control experiments performed on formulations comprising a physical dispersion of pyrene in unfunctionalized SEBS showed faint excimer emission and a negligible mechanochromic response up to 5 wt % of doping, in substantial agreement with the scanning near-field optical microscopy analysis. An evident drop of the IE/IM ratio occurred for 10 wt % of pyrene, albeit the excimer emission remained predominant even at the highest deformation, being a smaller fraction of pyrene moieties involved. Overall, the covalent approach appeared as an elegant procedure to confine the chromogenic unit in the soft phase of block copolymers and thus to provide an elastomeric film showing a detectable and reversible mechanochromic response with a modest (i.e., ∼1 wt %) amount of pyrene molecules, i.e., 10 times smaller compared to the dispersed system.

Blending or Bonding? Mechanochromism of an Aggregachromic Mechanophore in a Thermoplastic Elastomer

Micheletti, Cosimo;Carlotti, Marco;Fuso, Francesco;Pucci, Andrea
2023-01-01

Abstract

A straightforward way for the preparation of mechanochromic polymers consists of incorporating a suitable content of a mechanophore in the polymeric matrix either by physical dispersion or via covalent functionalization. Although covalent incorporation may require demanding chemical efforts, this approach can offer significant advantages over physical dispersion. In this work, a common thermoplastic elastomer, styrene-b-(ethylene-co-butylene)-b-styrene triblock copolymer grafted with maleic anhydride (SEBS-MAH), was covalently functionalized with 1-aminomethylpyrene (AMP). MAH functional groups are covalently linked to the ethylene-co-butylene blocks, thus allowing a precise and selective confinement of the chromogenic AMP units in the soft block. Flat, fully conjugated pyrene units undergo the reversible formation of π-πaggregates, readily distinguishable by their red-shifted emission. These aggregates were heavily affected by the application of mechanical stimuli. Despite the low degree of mechanophore functionalization (about 1 wt %), uniaxial deformation of the polymer was reliably monitored via fluorescence and a clear drop in the excimer to monomer emission ratio (IE/IM) was observed starting from 50% of strain. The marked mechanochromism was confirmed by emission lifetime measurements and also by near-field investigations. In addition, the mechanoresponse showed good reversibility after repeated stress-relaxation cycles. Control experiments performed on formulations comprising a physical dispersion of pyrene in unfunctionalized SEBS showed faint excimer emission and a negligible mechanochromic response up to 5 wt % of doping, in substantial agreement with the scanning near-field optical microscopy analysis. An evident drop of the IE/IM ratio occurred for 10 wt % of pyrene, albeit the excimer emission remained predominant even at the highest deformation, being a smaller fraction of pyrene moieties involved. Overall, the covalent approach appeared as an elegant procedure to confine the chromogenic unit in the soft phase of block copolymers and thus to provide an elastomeric film showing a detectable and reversible mechanochromic response with a modest (i.e., ∼1 wt %) amount of pyrene molecules, i.e., 10 times smaller compared to the dispersed system.
2023
Micheletti, Cosimo; Dini, Valentina Antonia; Carlotti, Marco; Fuso, Francesco; Genovese, Damiano; Zaccheroni, Nelsi; Gualandi, Chiara; Pucci, Andrea
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11568/1165745
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