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Boulder City, CO, United States

Berg G.J.,415 Colorado Ave. | McBride M.K.,415 Colorado Ave. | Wang C.,415 Colorado Ave. | Bowman C.N.,415 Colorado Ave.
Polymer (United Kingdom) | Year: 2014

The rapidly expanding field of shape memory polymers (SMPs) is driven by a growing number of potential applications, such as biomaterials, optics, and electronics. The basic concept involves polymers that can be trapped in a thermodynamically-unfavorable shape, then triggered by an external stimulus to return to their original shape, doing useful work in the process. Part of the attraction of using SMPs is that the energy released during actuation is stored in the polymer itself, rather than requiring an external force to change shape. This approach is beneficial for applications where external actuation is impossible or inconvenient. Polymers are also advantageous over shape memory metal alloys or ceramics in that there are endless combinations of functional groups and material properties to suit a variety of purposes, based on the monomers and polymerization conditions chosen. This advantage of SMPs is of particular interest in the development of materials with additional, desirable physicochemical attributes that are not necessarily coupled to the shape memory (SM) behavior itself. The SM behavior is quantitatively measured to facilitate comparison of various polymer systems, and researchers have used a number of defining parameters to guide the development and characterization of materials with extremely precise and reliable SM responses. In this review, recent trends in the structural or chemical characteristics of SMPs are explored, with an emphasis on how the molecular structure and functionality of each polymer affects its mechanical response. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Source

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