Multiphase design of autonomic self-healing thermoplastic elastomers

Nat Chem. 2012 Apr 1;4(6):467-72. doi: 10.1038/nchem.1314.


The development of polymers that can spontaneously repair themselves after mechanical damage would significantly improve the safety, lifetime, energy efficiency and environmental impact of man-made materials. Most approaches to self-healing materials require the input of external energy, healing agents, solvent or plasticizer. Despite intense research in this area, the synthesis of a stiff material with intrinsic self-healing ability remains a key challenge. Here, we show a design of multiphase supramolecular thermoplastic elastomers that combine high modulus and toughness with spontaneous healing capability. The designed hydrogen-bonding brush polymers self-assemble into a hard-soft microphase-separated system, combining the enhanced stiffness and toughness of nanocomposites with the self-healing capability of dynamic supramolecular assemblies. In contrast to previous self-healing polymers, this new system spontaneously self-heals as a single-component solid material at ambient conditions, without the need for any external stimulus, healing agent, plasticizer or solvent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Elastomers*
  • Hydrogen Bonding
  • Plastics*


  • Elastomers
  • Plastics

Associated data

  • PubChem-Substance/134964559
  • PubChem-Substance/134964560
  • PubChem-Substance/134964561