Researchers develop polymer that can change shape when exposed to body heat

Researchers develop polymer that can change shape when exposed to body heat

Changes in temperature causes visible changes in the shape of polymers, but a new type of polymer developed by a team of researchers at University of Rochester is unique in the sense that it can change shape when exposed to body heat alone.

The team led by chemical engineering professor Mitch Anthamatten announced the development of shape-memory polymer, a kind of material that can be programmed to maintain a temporary shape until triggered by heat to return to its original shape.

Anthamatten stressed that the new material is also capable of supporting 1,000 times its own mass as ell as of storing large amount of elastic energy, which enables the material to perform more mechanical work during the process of their shape recovery.

The newly published study stated, “Tuning the trigger temperature is only one part of the story. We also engineered these materials to store large amount[s] of elastic energy, enabling them to perform more mechanical work during their shape recovery.”

When the new material was heated to 35°C, its crystallites started to separate and the material regained its original shape. The newly developed shape-memory polymer is like a rubber band that can lock itself into a new shape when stretched but starts recoiling back to its original shape when touched. This research is expected to pave the way for the emergence of unique medical and other applications.

The development of the new polymer and its potential applications were detailed in a the most recent edition of the Journal of Polymer Science Part B: Polymer Physics.

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