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Shape Memory Investigation of α-Keratin Fibers as Multi-Coupled Stimuli of Responsive Smart Materials

Institute of Textiles and Clothing, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, China
Key Laboratory of Eco-Textiles, Ministry of Education, Jiangnan University, Wuxi 214122, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Chih-Feng Huang
Polymers 2017, 9(3), 87;
Received: 24 January 2017 / Accepted: 28 February 2017 / Published: 3 March 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functionally Responsive Polymeric Materials)
PDF [7507 KB, uploaded 8 March 2017]


Like the water responsive shape memory (SM) effect of β-keratin bird feathers, α-keratin hairs either existing broadly in nature are found responsive to many types of coupled stimuli in SM behaviors. In this article, α-keratin hairs were investigated for the combined stimuli of thermo-solvent, solvent-solvent, and UV (radiation)-reductant sensitive SM abilities. The related netpoints and switches from the hair molecular networks were identified. The experimental results showed that α-keratin hairs manifested a higher ability of shape fixation under thermal stimulus followed with the stimuli of solvent and UV-radiation. Shape recovery from the hair with a temporarily fixed shape showed a higher recovery ability using solvent than the stimuli of heat and UV-radiation. The effects of coupled stimuli on hair’s shape fixation and recovery and on variations of the crystal, disulfide, and hydrogen bonds were studied systematically. A structural network model was thereafter proposed to interpret the multi-coupled stimuli sensitive SM of α-keratin hair. This original study is expected to provide inspiration for exploring other natural fibers to reveal related smart functions and for making more types of remarkable adapted synthetic materials. View Full-Text
Keywords: α-keratin fiber; coupled stimuli; shape memory; network model α-keratin fiber; coupled stimuli; shape memory; network model

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Xiao, X.; Hu, J.; Gui, X.; Qian, K. Shape Memory Investigation of α-Keratin Fibers as Multi-Coupled Stimuli of Responsive Smart Materials. Polymers 2017, 9, 87.

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