Saturday, March 19, 2016

Researchers Create Unique Shape-Memory Polymer

“Shape-memory polymers are polymer networks that can be deformed and temporarily fixed into an elastically strained, non-equilibrium shape. Shape-fixing occurs when strong intermolecular interactions between configurationally distorted polymer chains overcome the chains’ entropic restoring forces,” the scientists explained in a paper in the Journal of Polymer Science Part B: Polymer Physics.

These polymers “are finding diverse applications, especially the biomedical field. Examples include clot removal devices, surgical sutures, dialysis needles, orthopedic suture anchors and vascular stents. These applications require that the trigger temperature should be near the human body temperature (37 degrees Celsius).”

The material developed by the University of Rochester research team not only can change its shape when exposed to a body temperature, but also can lift 1,000 times its own weight.
“For example, a polymer the size of a shoelace — which weighs about a gram — could lift a liter of soda,” the scientists said.

Source & further reading:


A time-lapse image of a previously deformed shape-memory network during recovery to its original shape upon contacting a finger in a room temperature environment. The image was obtained by periodic flash exposure over a time period of about 10 seconds.
Image credit: J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester.

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