Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Body temperature triggers newly developed polymer to change shape


Material can lift 1,000 times its mass

Polymers that visibly change shape when exposed to temperature changes are nothing new. But a research team led by Chemical Engineering Professor Mitch Anthamatten at the University of Rochester created a material that undergoes a shape change that can be triggered by body heat alone, opening the door for new medical and other applications.

A time-lapse photo of a new shape-memory polymer reverting to its original shape after being exposed to body temperature.

Photo by Adam Fenster/University of Rochester

The material developed by Anthamatten and graduate student Yuan Meng is a type of shape-memory polymer, which can be programmed to retain a temporary shape until it is triggered--typically by heat--to return to its original shape.

"Tuning the trigger temperature is only one part of the story," said Anthamatten. "We also engineered these materials to store large amount of elastic energy, enabling them to perform more mechanical work during their shape recovery"

The findings are being published this week in the Journal of Polymer Science Part B: Polymer Physics.

The key to developing the new polymer was figuring out how to control crystallization that occurs when the material is cooled or stretched. As the material is deformed, polymer chains are locally stretched, and small segments of the polymer align in the same direction in small areas--or domains--called crystallites, which fix the material into a temporarily deformed shape. As the number of crystallites grows, the polymer shape becomes more and more stable, making it increasingly difficult for the material to revert back to its initial--or "permanent"--shape.

The ability to tune the trigger temperature was achieved by including molecular linkers to connect the individual polymer strands. Anthamatten's group discovered that linkers inhibit--but don't stop--crystallization when the material is stretched. By altering the number and types of linkers used, as well as how they're distributed throughout the polymer network, the Rochester researchers were able to adjust the material's stability and precisely set the melting point at which the shape change is triggered.

Heating the new polymer to temperatures near 35 ?C, just below the body temperature, causes the crystallites to break apart and the material to revert to its permanent shape.

"Our shape-memory polymer is like a rubber band that can lock itself into a new shape when stretched," said Anthamatten. "But a simple touch causes it to recoil back to its original shape."

Having a polymer with a precisely tunable trigger temperature was only one objective. Of equal importance, Anthamatten and his team wanted the material to be able to deliver a great deal of mechanical work as the shape transforms back to its permanent shape. Consequently, they set out to optimize their polymer networks to store as much elastic energy as possible.

"Nearly all applications of shape memory polymers will require that the material pushes or pulls on its surroundings," said Anthamatten. "However, researchers seldom measure the amount of mechanical work that shape-memory polymers are actually performing."

Anthamatten's shape-memory polymer is capable of lifting an object one-thousand times its weight. For example, a polymer the size of a shoelace--which weighs about a gram--could lift a liter of soda.

Anthamatten says the shape-memory polymer could have a variety of applications, including sutures, artificial skin, body-heat assisted medical dispensers, and self-fitting apparel.

Media Contact

Peter Iglinski


Peter Iglinski | EurekAlert!

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht From ancient fossils to future cars
21.10.2016 | University of California - Riverside

nachricht Study explains strength gap between graphene, carbon fiber
20.10.2016 | Rice University

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>