Tunable Shape Memory Polymers

A material that can be manipulated and deformed only to return to its original shape as necessary.
This invention relates to a class of network polymers, containing reversibly associating side-groups that can be structurally tailored as “shape memory” materials for a variety of applications in biotechnology and medicine as well as such other uses as shapeable tools, intelligent packaging, recyclable thermosets, etc.  They contain both covalent and non-covalent cross-links and can readily be deformed to over 100% strain and be tailored to return to their original shape on a desired timescale. They are solid, transparent, soft and comfortable to touch.

The invention describes a class of shape memory polymers whose properties can be tailored to specific applications.  They are typically made up of three constituents: hydrogen-bonding units, cross-linking units and backbone modifying units.  When elastically strained, they form non-covalent bonds through their self-complimentary side-groups which on lowering temperature, can hold or “pin” the material in the strained shape.  Since the association of side-groups is a completely reversible process, the material will eventually relax to its original state. The rate of strain relaxation is influenced by the number and type of covalent cross-links, non-covalent hydrogen bonds, and temperature.  These materials differ from traditional shape memory materials because they are transparent and rubber in their low-temperature, strained state. The materials are easy to prepare and can readily be processed and fabricated to the desired size and shape.

URV Reference Number: 2-11141-06034
Patent Information:
Title Country Patent No. Issued Date
Shape Memory Polymers United States 7,935,131 5/3/2011
For Information, Contact:
McKenna Geiger
Licensing Manager
University of Rochester
Mitchell Anthamatten
Jiahui Li