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Polymers 2018, 10(2), 107; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10020107

Demonstrating the Influence of Physical Aging on the Functional Properties of Shape-Memory Polymers

1
Institute of Mechanics (CE), University of Stuttgart, 70565 Stuttgart, Germany
2
Faculty of Natural Sciences II-Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics, Martin-Luther-University Halle, 06120 Halle, Germany
3
Department of Physics, Faculty of Science, Minia University, 61519 Minia, Egypt
4
SimTech, University of Stuttgart, 70565 Stuttgart, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 1 December 2017 / Revised: 13 January 2018 / Accepted: 15 January 2018 / Published: 23 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Shape Memory Polymers)
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Abstract

Polymers that allow the adjustment of Shape-Memory properties by the variation of physical parameters during programming are advantageous compared with their counterparts requiring synthesis of new material. Here, we explored the influence of hydrolytic (physical) aging on the Shape-Memory properties of the polyetherurethane system Estane, programmed in repeated thermomechanical cycles under torsional load. We were able to demonstrate that physical aging occurred through water adsorption influencing the existing free volume of the samples as well as the functional properties of Estane. Dynamic Mechanical Thermal Analysis determined the glass transition temperatures of dry and hydrolytically aged samples. According to our results, Estane takes up to 3 wt % water for two weeks (at an ambient temperature of θ = 20 °C). The glass transition temperatures of dry samples decreased within this period from 55 to 48 °C as a consequence of a plasticization effect. Next, for both samples, six subsequent thermomechanical cycles under torsional loading conditions were performed. We were able to confirm that hydrolytically aged samples showed higher shape recovery ratios of Rr ≥ 97%, although dry samples revealed better shape fixity values of about 98%. Moreover, it was observed that the shape fixity ratio of both dry and hydrolytically (physically) aged samples remained almost unchanged even after six successive cycles. Besides this, the shape recovery ratio values of the aged samples were nearly unaltered, although the shape recovery values of the dry samples increased from Rr = 81% in the first cycle to 96% at the end of six repeated cycles. Further, the evolution of the free volume as a function of temperature was studied using Positron Annihilation Lifetime Spectroscopy. It was shown that the uptake of two other organic solvents (acetone and ethanol) resulted in much higher specific free volume inside the samples and, consequently, a softening effect was observed. We anticipate that the presented approach will assist in defining design criteria for self-sufficiently moving scaffolds within a knowledge-based development process. View Full-Text
Keywords: shape-memory polymers; physical aging; water-triggering; positron annihilation lifetime spectroscopy; viscoelasticity; modeling; thermo-rheological simplicity shape-memory polymers; physical aging; water-triggering; positron annihilation lifetime spectroscopy; viscoelasticity; modeling; thermo-rheological simplicity
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Ghobadi, E.; Elsayed, M.; Krause-Rehberg, R.; Steeb, H. Demonstrating the Influence of Physical Aging on the Functional Properties of Shape-Memory Polymers. Polymers 2018, 10, 107.

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