Combined light- and heat-induced shape memory behavior of anthracene- based epoxy elastomers

YZ Li and M Goswami and YH Zhang and T Liu and JW Zhang and MR Kessler and LW Wang and O Rios, SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 10, 20214 (2020).

DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-77246-0

The development of multi-stimuli-responsive shape memory polymers has received increasing attention because of its scientific and technological significance. In this work, epoxy elastomers with reversible crosslinks are synthesized by polymerizing an anthracene- functionalized epoxy monomer, a diepoxy comonomer, and a dicarboxylic acid curing agent. The synthesized elastomers exhibit active responses to both light and heat enabled by the incorporated anthracene groups. When exposed to 365 nm UV light, additional crosslinking points are created by the photo-induced dimerization of pendant anthracene groups. The formation of the crosslinking points increases modulus and glass transition temperature of the elastomers, allowing for the fixation of a temporary shape at room temperature. The temporary shape remains stable until an external heat stimulus is applied to trigger the scission of the dimerized anthracene, which reduces the modulus and glass transition temperature and allows the elastomers to recover their original shapes. The effects of external stimuli on the thermal and dynamic mechanical properties of the elastomers are investigated experimentally and are correlated with molecular dynamics simulations that reveal the changes of structure and dynamics of the anthracene molecules and flexible chains.

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