Block copolymers are versatile designer macromolecules where a “bottom-up” approach can be used to create tailored materials with unique properties. These simple building blocks allow us to create actuators that convert energy from a variety of sources (such as chemical, electrical and heat) into mechanical energy. In this review we will discuss the advantages and potential pitfalls of using block copolymers to create actuators, putting emphasis on the ways in which these materials can be synthesised and processed. Particular attention will be given to the theoretical background of microphase separation and how the phase diagram can be used during the design process of actuators. Different types of actuation will be discussed throughout.
Bibliographical note© 2010 by the authors; licensee Molecular Diversity Preservation International, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open-access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).
- microphase separation
- block copolymer
- physical gels
- non-covalent interactions