Characterization of Shape-Memory Materials

Shape-memory materials describe a novel type of materials, which have the ability of recovering from a deformed to its original shape after applying a certain, external stimulus.


Shape-memory polymers are able to memorize a temporary shape that is stored and can recover to their original shape upon application of an external stimulus. Such materials can be used for a variety of emerging applications, which include industrial as well as biomedical applications[1]. Examples for the latter are implants or stents that are placed in the blood vessel in a folded state and unfold as body temperature heats it up.

Shape-memory polymers have the ability to return to their original shape after they have been deformed. The prior deformation is initiated by applying force on the material which is subsequently cooled down to store the deformation until it is reheated above the characteristic temperature. Above this temperature, the polymer returns to its initial shape. Besides temperature changes, there are other stimuli like light, magnetic and electric fields, or solutions that can induce the shape-memory effect. This process is called shape-memory cycle and is shown in Figure 1. Hence, these shape-memory polymers are able to be put in places in their deformed state which they otherwise would not be able to reach[1]. In medical applications, this allows for gentler treatment with shorter regenerative phases.


[1] Safranski, D.L., Griffis, J.C., editors (2017). „Shape-Memory Polymer Device Design”, Elsevier, ISBN 9780323377973.

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