Seeing’ strain in soft materials

Zhiyong Xia, Vanessa D. Alphonse, Doug B. Trigg, Tim P. Harrigan, Jeff M. Paulson, Quang T. Luong, Evan P. Lloyd, Meredith H. Barbee, Stephen L. Craig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Several technologies can be used for measuring strains of soft materials under high rate impact conditions. These technologies include high speed tensile test, split Hopkinson pressure bar test, digital image correlation and high speed X-ray imaging. However, none of these existing technologies can produce a continuous 3D spatial strain distribution in the test specimen. Here we report a novel passive strain sensor based on poly(dimethyl siloxane) (PDMS) elastomer with covalently incorporated spiropyran (SP) mechanophore to measure impact induced strains. We have shown that the incorporation of SP into PDMS at 0.25 wt% level can adequately measure impact strains via color change under a high strain rate of 1500 s1 within a fraction of a millisecond. Further, the color change is fully reversible and thus can be used repeatedly. This technology has a high potential to be used for quantifying brain strain for traumatic brain injury applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number542
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019


  • Impact strain
  • Mechanophore
  • Poly(dimethyl siloxane)
  • Spiropyran
  • Strain sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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