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Issue 1, 2007
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Actively moving polymers

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The ability of polymers to move actively in response to an external stimulus such as heat or light is of high scientific and technological significance. In any instance stimuli-responsive effects on the molecular level are converted into macroscopic movement, whereby generally two different moving behaviors have to be differentiated for polymer-based materials: the shape-memory effect and the shape-changing capability. Basic concepts for the molecular design of suitable polymer architectures for shape-memory polymers as well as tailored programming processes are presented. The thermally-induced shape-memory effect of polymers is described as well as the extension of this concept to other stimuli than heat. Indirect actuation of the thermally-induced effect by IR-irradiation, electric current, humidity or alternating magnetic fields are outlined as well as recent work on light-induced shape-memory polymers. For shape-changing polymers, two basic concepts are presented: shape changes occurring during phase orientation of liquid crystal elastomers (LCE) and the photomechanical effect based on photoisomerization of moieties, such as azo-groups incorporated in suitable polymer systems.

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Article information

24 Jul 2006
18 Oct 2006
First published
14 Nov 2006

Soft Matter, 2007,3, 58-67
Article type
Review Article

Actively moving polymers

M. Behl and A. Lendlein, Soft Matter, 2007, 3, 58
DOI: 10.1039/B610611K

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