Rubbers and elastomers have a rich history that spans many eras of human civilization dating back to 1600 AD. Upon their introduction into Europe, they became common materials in shoes and fabrics. With the invention of vulcanization by Charles Goodyear in 1839, rubbers became widely used in many new applications, ranging from tires to industrial machine parts. Today, rubbers and elastomers are essential in the development of innovative, emerging technologies. This review exemplifies how rubbers and elastomers have been used to advance the emerging fields of soft robotics through soft grippers and dielectric elastomer actuators, stretchable and wearable devices through conductive elastomers and smart elastomers used in thermal camouflage and sensors, biomedical applications through tissue scaffolding and stretch-triggered drug delivery, and energy harvesting through piezoelectric elastomers and wave harvesting triboelectric nanogenerators. This review also briefly summarizes other developments in these fields as well as glimpses into other emerging fields that are advancing through the incorporation of rubbers and elastomers.

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