Smart polymer fibers with shape memory effect

Feng Long Ji, Yong Zhu, Jinlian Hu, Yan Liu, Lap Yan Yeung, Guang Dou Ye

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

154 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, a series of smart polymer fibers with a shape memory effect were developed. Firstly, a set of shape memory polyurethanes with varying hard-segment content were synthesized. Then, the solutions of the shape memory polyurethanes were spun into fibers through wet spinning. The thin films of the polyurethanes were considered to represent the nature of the polyurethanes. Differential scanning calorimetry tests were performed on both the thin films and the fibers to compare their thermal properties. Wide angle x-ray diffraction and small angle x-ray scattering techniques were applied to investigate the structure of the thin films and the fibers, and the structure change taking place in the spinning process was therefore revealed. The spinning process resulted in the polyurethane molecules being partially oriented in the direction of the fiber axis. The molecular orientation prompted the aggregation of the hard segments and the formation of hard-segment microdomains. The mechanical properties of the fibers were examined through tensile tests. The shape memory effect of the thin films and the fibers was investigated through a series of thermomechanical cyclic tensile tests. It was found that the fibers showed less shape fixity but more shape recovery compared with the thin films. Further investigations revealed that the recovery stress of the fibers was higher than that of the thin films. The smart fibers may exert the recovery force of shape memory polymers to an extreme extent in the direction of the fiber axis and therefore provide a possibility for producing high-performance actuators.
Original languageEnglish
Article number006
Pages (from-to)1547-1554
Number of pages8
JournalSmart Materials and Structures
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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