Nature Reviews Materials publication on actuators made from shape-memory polymers
Prof. Andreas Lendlein and Dr. Oliver Gould have published a comprehensive review on materials that can be controllably switched between two totally different pre-defined shapes, thus functioning as an actuator.
An example of a shape-memory effect. Image: HZG/Oliver Gould
The paper, published on 10th January 2019 in Nature Reviews Materials, explains that the shape-memory functionality can be programmed into the polymeric materials by deforming them and adjusting the temperature. The fascinating mechanisms through which this effect occurs are described, such as through the formation of tiny crystals within the polymers (orange and green structures in the image). These "shape-memory polymers" are useful in a diverse range of applications: as muscles for adaptable, safer robots made from soft materials, or smart fabrics that respond to become more breathable when hot, and more moisture repellant when cold.
Please click here to read the full publication in Nature Reviews Materials.