A brief review of the shape memory phenomena in polymers and their typical sensor applications

Li Sun, Tao Xi Wang, Hong Mei Chen, Abhijit Vijay Salvekar, Balasundaram Selvan Naveen, Qinwei Xu, Yiwei Weng, Xinli Guo, Yahui Chen, Wei Min Huang

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


In this brief review, an introduction of the underlying mechanisms for the shape memory effect (SME) and various shape memory phenomena in polymers is presented first. After that, a summary of typical applications in sensors based on either heating or wetting activated shape recovery using largely commercial engineering polymers, which are programmed by means of in-plane pre-deformation (load applied in the length/width direction) or out-of-plane pre-deformation (load applied in the thickness direction), is presented. As demonstrated by a number of examples, many low-cost engineering polymers are well suited to, for instance, anti-counterfeit and over-heating/wetting monitoring applications via visual sensation and/or tactual sensation, and many existing technologies and products (e.g., holography, 3D printing, nano-imprinting, electro-spinning, lenticular lens, Fresnel lens, QR/bar code, Moiré pattern, FRID, structural coloring, etc.) can be integrated with the shape memory feature.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1049
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • Anti-counterfeit
  • Sensor
  • Shape memory material
  • Shape memory polymer
  • Temperature sensor
  • Wetting sensor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics


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