Self-healing materials are designed to heal damage caused by, for example, mechanical stress or aging such that the original functionality of the material is at least partially restored. Thus, self-healing materials hold great promise for prolonging the lifetime of machines, particularly those in remote locations, as well as in increasing the reliability and safety associated with functional materials in, for example, aeronautics applications. Recent material science applications of self-healing have led to an increased interest in the field and, consequently, the spectroscopic characterization of a wide range of self-healing materials with respect to their mechanical properties such as stress and strain resistance and elasticity was in the focus. However, the characterization of the chemical mechanisms underlying various self-healing processes locally within the damaged region of materials still presents a major challenge. This requires experimental techniques that work non-destructively in situ and are capable of revealing the chemical composition of a sample with sufficient spatial and temporal resolution without disturbing the healing process. Along these lines, vibrational spectroscopy and, in particular Raman spectroscopy, holds great promise, largely due to the high spatial resolution in the order of several hundreds of nanometers that can be obtained. This article aims to summarize the state of the art and prospective of Raman spectroscopy to contribute significant insights to the research on self-healing materials – in particular focusing on polymer and biopolymer materials.

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DOI: 10.1016/j.mattod.2014.01.020