Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) of Netherlands has created a plastic that emits red, yellow, blue or green light when pulled, according to its recent press release.
As explained, the researchers incorporated an additional element in the plastic molecules, a molecular ring called dioxetane. When the plastic is pulled hard enough, the ring breaks open and emits light for as long as it is pulled. When the plastic is completely torn apart, a flash of light is seen because a lot of molecular rings break at the same time.
The researchers were looking for possibilities of mechanical forces to unlock new types of chemistry, says Professor of Supramolecular Polymer Chemistry Rint Sijbesma. He believes it can be used for studying of the collapse behavior of polymers as the transmitted light makes it possible to very accurately see where, when and how polymers break.
TU/e said the principle is different from that of the luminous rods that are used at concerts, whereas these rods are bended and broken inside, two liquids mix, creating a new chemical substance.
The above research, “Mechanically induced chemiluminescence from polymers incorporating a 1,2-dioxetane unit in the main chain” was published in the journal Nature Chemistry (DOI: 10.1038/NCHEM.1358).