Writing Without Ink: A Mechanically and Photochemically Responsive PDMS Polymer for Science Outreach


Journal Article

© 2017 The American Chemical Society and Division of Chemical Education, Inc. An easy-To-implement science outreach demonstration featuring a mechanically and photochemically color-changing polymer is described. The active polymeric material is a filled poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) elastomer that is covalently functionalized with spiropyran (SP), which is both a photochemical and mechanochemical switch. The material can be reversibly changed from colorless to dark purple by exposing it to light from a blue laser pointer or providing a mechanical stimulus such as hitting the polymer with a hammer or dragging a blunt object across the surface. The keynote demonstration is a PDMS chemical-drawing board that allows children literally to "write without ink" using a laser pointer or a blunt stylus. Collectively, these demonstrations are suitable for various student groups and encompass concepts in polymer and materials chemistry, photochemistry, and mechanochemistry. This demonstration has been successfully employed dozens of times in multiple universities across North America.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Brown, CL; Barbee, MH; Ko, JH; Maynard, HD; Craig, SL

Published Date

  • November 14, 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 94 / 11

Start / End Page

  • 1752 - 1755

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1938-1328

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0021-9584

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1021/acs.jchemed.6b00806

Citation Source

  • Scopus