Plastics with a Memory

Self-repairing fenders and intelligent implants – shape-memory polymers as materials of the future

With a bang, the fender is dented and has to be replaced. Wouldn`t it be nice if the dent could simply – presto! – disappear? Such “intelligent” materials are already being developed, relate Andreas Lendlein and Steffen Kelch in an overview of the field in Angewandte Chemie.

Shape-memory polymers, that`s the magic words: after an undesired deformation, such as a dent in the fender, these plastics “remember” their original shape. Heating them up gives their “memory” a boost – the dent could thus be removed with a hair-dryer.

Polymers with shape memory have both a visible, current form and a stored, permanent one. Once the latter has been produced by conventional methods, the material is molded into a second, temporary form by skillful heating, deformation, and finally cooling. The plastic maintains this shape until the permanent form is recalled by a predetermined external stimulus. The secret behind these clever materials lies in their molecular network structure, which contains meltable “switching segments”. Raising the temperature activates the switching: the crystallized switching segments melt and the material resumes its original form.

In the case of the fender, we are just interested in one shape: the undamaged original shape. The impact results in a temporary form, which changes back to the original form upon heating – the plastic repairs itself.

The two researchers have high hopes that especially interesting applications will be found for shape memory polymers that are tolerated physiologically. These are just the thing for buttonhole surgery, the gentle operative technique of the future. It is conceivable that large implants in a compressed state could be introduced into the body in a minimally invasive fashion, and could subsequently “remember” their original shape. Such materials can also be made to be completely biodegradable, eventually disappearing out of the patient`s body.

Media Contact

Frank Maass alfa

Alle Nachrichten aus der Kategorie: Life Sciences

Articles and reports from the Life Sciences area deal with applied and basic research into modern biology, chemistry and human medicine.

Valuable information can be found on a range of life sciences fields including bacteriology, biochemistry, bionics, bioinformatics, biophysics, biotechnology, genetics, geobotany, human biology, marine biology, microbiology, molecular biology, cellular biology, zoology, bioinorganic chemistry, microchemistry and environmental chemistry.

Zurück zur Startseite

Kommentare (0)

Schreib Kommentar

Neueste Beiträge

Key breakthrough towards on-site cancer diagnosis

No stain? No sweat: Terahertz waves can image early-stage breast cancer without staining. A team of researchers at Osaka University, in collaboration with the University of Bordeaux and the Bergonié…

A CNIO team describes how a virus can cause diabetes

It has recently been described that infection by some enteroviruses – a genus of viruses that commonly cause diseases of varying severity – could potentially trigger diabetes, although its direct…

Targeting the shell of the Ebola virus

UD research team looking at ways to destabilize virus, knock it out with antivirals. As the world grapples with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, another virus has been raging again in…

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close