Nancy Sottos is the Swanlund Endowed Chair and Head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She is known for her work in the development of self-healing and mechanochemically-active polymers that have led to safer and longer lasting materials. She currently serves as leader of the Autonomous Materials Systems Group at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology and holds appointments in the Aerospace Engineering and Mechanical Science and Engineering at Illinois. She was born and raised in New Jersey, received her B.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Delaware, and joined and the University of Illinois faculty in 1991. Sottos is co-founder of Autonomous Materials Inc. (AMI) and RapiCure Solutions. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences.

Research Interests

Inspired by autonomous function in biological systems, the Sottos group develops polymers and advanced polymer-based composite materials capable of self-healing and regeneration, self-reporting, and self-protection. A key goal is to control the entire material lifecycle to improve reliability and extend material lifetimes. The Sottos group seeks to understand the coupled physical behavior of these complex, heterogeneous materials through meso and microscale characterization of mechano-chemical deformation and failure mechanisms. She is part of a collaborative interdisciplinary research team that first introduced self-healing polymers based on microencapsulated monomeric healing agents coupled with matrix-embedded catalysts. Sottos and her team made additional advances to realize autonomous function in materials, including the introduction of microvascular networks and the design of mechanochemically active polymeric materials where mechanical force initiates a chemical reaction that provides assessment of the stress state prior to failure. Sottos is also interested in the development of biologically inspired, energy efficient methods based on frontal polymerization to manufacture polymers and composites with autonomous functions.

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Primary Section

Section 31: Engineering Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 14: Chemistry