Covalent adaptable networks (CANs): A unique paradigm in cross-linked polymers

Christopher J. Kloxin, Timothy F. Scott, Brian J. Adzima, Christopher N. Bowman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

417 Citations (Scopus)


Polymer networks possessing reversible covalent cross-links constitute a novel material class with the capacity for adapting to an externally applied stimulus. These covalent adaptable networks (CANs) represent a trend in polymer network fabrication toward the rational design of structural materials possessing dynamic characteristics for specialty applications. Herein, we discuss the unique attributes of CANs that must be considered when designing, fabricating, and characterizing these smart materials that respond to either thermal or photochemical stimuli. While there are many reversible reactions which to consider as possible cross-link candidates in CANs, there are very few that are readily and repeatedly reversible. Furthermore, characterization of the mechanical properties of CANs requires special consideration owing to their unique attributes. Ultimately, these attributes are what lead to the advantageous properties displayed by CANs, such as recyclability, healability, tunability, shape changes, and low polymerization stress. Throughout this Perspective, we identify several trends and future directions in the emerging field of CANs that demonstrate the progress to date as well as the essential elements that are needed for further advancement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2643-2653
Number of pages11
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2010
Externally publishedYes

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