9/8/2011: Soft active materials - when mechanics meets chemistry

Soft active materials – when mechanics meets chemistry

August 9, 2011, 10:00 -11:00, HG E33.1, ETH Zurich

Prof. Dr. Zhigang Suo
Harvard University, USA
Soft materials can mimic a salient feature of life: deformation in response to diverse stimuli. Long and flexible polymers can be covalently crosslinked to form a three- dimensional network, namely, an elastomer. The network can imbibe a solvent and swell, forming an aggregate known as an elastomeric gel. Gels have many uses, including personal care, drug delivery, tissue engineering, microfluidic regulation, and oilfield management. Mixtures of macromolecular elastomers and mobile molecules also constitute most tissues of plants and animals. The amount of swelling can be large and reversible, regulated by environmental stimuli, such as force, electric field, pH, salinity, and light. This talk describes a theory that combines the mechanics of nonlinear fields and the chemistry of molecular mixtures. The theory is illustrated with examples of swelling- induced large deformation, contact, and bifurcation. The theory is further illustrated with recent experiments.