Researchers Create Polymer with Extreme Strength
An ultra-tough polymer has been created by the researchers at the University of Rochester (UR). This polymer is capable modifying its structure, with the introduction of body heat. According to the lead researcher of the study, Mitch Anthamatten, a chemical engineer at UR, triggering the right temperature was only one section of the study.
Anthamatten added that materials have been modified to make them capable of accumulating huge amounts of elastic energy. This makes them proficient enough to carry out additional mechanical operations, while resuming its shape, revealed Anthamatten.
Furthermore, the polymer can hold a 1,000 times more weight than its own. Anthamatten further explains that the shape-memory polymer he has developed along with his research partner Yuan Meng, a grad student, is comparable to a rubber band, which when elongated is capable of locking itself in a new figure. However, with just a touch, the polymer will resume its actual shape.
The formation of crystalline structures during the bending or stretching of the polymer, determines the point to which they can maintain their shape. The researchers discovered the amount and distribution of molecular linkers, with which the level and growth of crystallization can be managed. The experiment involved varied amounts of molecular linkers, till the time the researchers managed to find a level where the crystals melt with the body heat and initiated the process of the polymer resuming its actual shape.
The specific sensitivity to temperature is only one benefit of this polymer. The polymer is extremely strong and can exert significant amount of force while recoiling. "Nearly all applications of shape memory polymers will require that the material pushes or pulls on its surroundings. However, researchers seldom measure the amount of mechanical work that shape-memory polymers are actually performing," said Anthamatten. New and advanced innovations can be made in the field of medical implant devices and technologies with the development of this polymer.