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Issue 9, 2014
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Bioinspired materials that self-shape through programmed microstructures

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Abstract

Nature displays numerous examples of materials that can autonomously change their shape in response to external stimuli. Remarkably, shape changes in biological systems can be programmed within the material's microstructure to enable self-shaping capabilities even in the absence of cellular control. Here, we revisit recent attempts to replicate in synthetic materials the shape-changing behavior of selected natural materials displaying deliberately tuned fibrous architectures. Simple processing methods like drawing, spinning or casting under magnetic fields are shown to be effective in mimicking the orientation and spatial distribution of reinforcing fibers of natural materials, thus enabling unique shape-changing features in synthetic systems. The bioinspired design and creation of self-shaping microstructures represent a new pathway to program shape changes in synthetic materials. In contrast to shape-memory polymers and metallic alloys, the self-shaping capabilities in these bioinspired materials originate at the microstructural level rather than the molecular scale. This enables the creation of programmable shape changes using building blocks that would otherwise not display the intrinsic molecular/atomic phase transitions required in conventional shape-memory materials.

Graphical abstract: Bioinspired materials that self-shape through programmed microstructures

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Publication details

The article was received on 10 Jul 2013, accepted on 28 Aug 2013 and first published on 30 Aug 2013


Article type: Review Article
DOI: 10.1039/C3SM51883C
Citation: Soft Matter, 2014,10, 1284-1294
  • Open access: Creative Commons BY license
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    Bioinspired materials that self-shape through programmed microstructures

    A. R. Studart and R. M. Erb, Soft Matter, 2014, 10, 1284
    DOI: 10.1039/C3SM51883C

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