Light-Emitting Smart Polymer

A novel polymer that emits light in response to mechanical action.

A novel polymer that emits light in response to mechanical action.


Smart materials are advanced products, which can sense and respond to a broad range of stimuli, including electric and magnetic fields, temperature, pressure, mechanical stress, hydrostatic pressure, nuclear radiation, and pH change. Triboluminescent (TL) materials are examples of smart materials that produce light emission in response to mechanical action and has attracted significant interest due to their wide range of potential utilization for mechanoresponsive sensors, light emitting devices, etc. However, the majority of commonly used mechanophores (stress or strain activated molecular units) are based on organic molecules with an irreversible response, or a slow recovery. This hinders the development of a mechanical stress probe that can visualize subtle stress changes repeatably. Here we present a promising light-emitting smart material developed by a group of researchers led by Prof. Julia Khusnutdinova. The smart material is based on a copper-containing compound used as a cross-linker, which, upon mechanical action, will emit light.

The technology is based on a photoluminescent copper-containing compound used as a cross-linker in elastomeric polymers to provide a material that shows response to mechanical stimulus (mechanical stress) (including stretching, compression, shear, bending). Methods are provided to prepare a material which changes photoluminescence intensity in response to mechanical stimulus (mechanical stress), measurable by spectroscopic methods or by direct imaging. Using aforementioned copper containing cross-linkers, reversible, repeatable, and fast response to a mechanical stimulus is achieved.


  • Stress sensing coating used on bridges, car, and aircraft frames
  • Mechanical probe to monitor applied mechanical stress in soft materials


  • Reversible
  • Fast
  • Sensitive