Polymers that can easily be repaired after being damaged are attractive as this characteristic can improve the reliability, functionality, and lifetime of many products. In the last decade, researchers have thus developed new approaches to create stimuli-responsive polymer systems, which have the ability to autonomously heal or can be repaired upon exposure to an external stimulus. This review summarizes the current knowledge of optically healable or photo-healable polymers. The use of light as a stimulus for healing offers several attractive features, including the ability to deliver the stimulus locally, which opens up the possibility of healing the material under load, as well as the ability to tailor the wavelength of light to selectively address a specific component of the material, e.g. only the damaged parts. So far, two main classes of optically healable polymers have been explored, which are structurally dynamic polymers and mechanically activated reactive systems.
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