Triple-shape polymers


Shape-memory polymers (SMPs) are an emerging class of active materials, which are able to change their shape in a predefined way upon appropriate stimulation. As SMPs can switch from a temporary to their permanent shape they are dual-shape materials. Recently, multiphase polymer networks were explored, which are able to switch from a first shape (A) to a second shape (B) and from there to a third shape (C). Here we highlight this triple-shape effect (TSE) as a thermally triggered effect. The generality of the concept will be explained by describing suitable polymer network architectures and appropriate triple-shape creation processes (TSCPs). TSCP is a thermomechanical treatment typically consisting of two consecutive deformation steps resulting in shapes B and A. The molecular architecture of triple-shape polymers (TSPs) also contains the essential elements for the dual-shape effect (DSE), which therefore was systematically investigated. The understanding of the underlying mechanisms recently led to the discovery of a system, where a thermomechanical treatment with only one single deformation step resulted in a TSE. TSPs enable complex, active deformations on demand, having a high potential as enabling technology for application fields including intelligent medical devices, textile and assembling systems.
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