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First-of-Its-Kind Polymer Glows White When Stretched

Polymers that change their appearance in response to mechanical forces can indicate that damage is developing in a material before the stress causes structural failure. Researchers from Japan, Switzerland, and Saudi Arabia report in ACS Central Science that they've developed an elastic polymer blend that displays white fluorescence when deformed and then goes dark after relaxing back to its original shape. The blend consists of polymers that, by themselves, glow green, blue, or orange. By combining the three polymers, the researchers say they created the first white-light-emitting polymer that can instantly be switched on and off mechanically.