Shape-Memory Polymers


Shape-memory polymers (SMPs) are stimuli-sensitive materials capable of changing their shape on demand. A shape-memory function is a result of the polymer architecture together with the application of a specific programming procedure. Various possible mechanisms to induce the shape-memory effect (SME) can be realized, which can be based on thermal transitions of switching domains or on reversible molecular switches (e.g., supramolecular interactions, reversible covalent bonds). Netpoints, which connect the switching domains and determine the permanent shape, can be either provided by covalent bonds or by physical intermolecular interactions, such as hydrogen bonds or crystallites. This chapter reviews different ways of implementing the phenomenon of programmable changes in the polymer shape, including the one-way shape-memory effect (1-W SME), triple- and multi-shape effects (TSE/MSE), the temperature-memory effect (TME), and reversible shape-memory effects, which can be realized in constant stress conditions (rSME), or in stress-free conditions (reversible bidirectional shape-memory effect (rbSME)). Furthermore, magnetically actuated SMPs and shape-memory hydrogels (SMHs) are described to show the potential of the SMP technology in biomedical applications and multifunctional approaches.
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