Shape-Memory Composites Based on Ionic Elastomers

Shape-memory polymers tend to present rigid behavior at ambient temperature, being unable to deform in this state. To obtain soft shape-memory elastomers, composites based on a commercial rubber crosslinked by both ionic and covalent bonds were developed, as these materials do not lose their elastomeric behavior below their transition (or activation) temperature (using ionic transition for such a purpose). The introduction of fillers, such as carbon black and multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs), was studied and compared with the unfilled matrix. By adding contents above 10 phr of MWCNT, shape-memory properties were enhanced by 10%, achieving fixing and recovery ratios above 90% and a faster response. Moreover, by adding these fillers, the conductivity of the materials increased from ~10^−11 to ~10^−4 S·cm^−1, allowing the possibility to activate the shape-memory effect with an electric current, based on the heating of the material by the Joule effect, achieving a fast and clean stimulus requiring only a current source of 50 V.

Antonio González Jiménez, Pilar Bernal Ortega, Fernando Martín Salamanca and Juan López Valentín.