Shape memory polymer
(SMP) nanocomposites with a fast electro-actuation speed
were prepared by dispersing Cu-decorated carbon nanotubes (CNTs) (Cu-CNTs, 1 wt %, 2 wt %, and 3 wt %) in a polylactic acid (PLA)/epoxidized soybean oil (ESO) blend matrix. The shape memory effect (SME)
induced by an electrical current was investigated by a fold-deploy “U”-shape bending test. In addition, the
Cu-CNT dispersed PLA/ESO nanocomposite was characterized by atomic force microscopy (AFM), dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) and tensile and electrical measurements. The results demonstrated that the SME was dependent
on the Cu-CNT content in the nanocomposites. When comparing the SMEs of the nanocomposite specimens with different Cu-CNT contents, the 2 wt % Cu-CNT dispersed system exhibited a shape recovery as high as 98% within 35 s due to its higher electrical conductivity that results from uniform Cu-CNT dispersion. However, the nanocomposites that contained 1 wt % and 3 wt % Cu-CNTs required 75 s and 63 s, respectively, to reach a maximum recovery level. In addition, the specimens exhibited better mechanical properties after the addition of Cu-CNTs.
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