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Issue 16, 2012
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Switchable information carriers based on shape memory polymer

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Herein we demonstrate the realization of a new technological concept, which enables the use of shape memory polymers (SMPs) as switchable information carriers. At first, we applied a surface-specific dyeing process based on ‘guest-diffusion’ on two sophisticated polymeric host materials, including a thermoplastic poly(ester urethane) SMP and a thermoset epoxy-based SMP. Upon drying, self-assembly of the dye molecules inside the polymer surfaces occurred, resulting in homogeneous color penetration depths of about 100 μm. Subsequently, the colored surfaces were patterned with quick response (QR) codes. For this purpose, laser ablation was used. The resulting cavity depth was exceeding the color penetration depth. This assured sufficient surface contrast and rendered the QR codes machine-readable. In a progressive approach, two thermo-mechanical functionalization protocols were designed in accordance with the thermal properties of the polymers. As a result of programming, the tag prototypes were converted into stable, temporary shapes with non-decodable QR code information. When thermally triggering the shape memory effect on the functionalized tags, we verified the mostly complete recovery of the polymer surface and the associated restoration into the almost original shape. As such, the QR code could again precisely be read out. We anticipate that tagging products with these information carriers is helpful for the purpose of secure one-time identification.

Graphical abstract: Switchable information carriers based on shape memory polymer

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Supplementary files

Article information

28 Nov 2011
25 Jan 2012
First published
10 Feb 2012

J. Mater. Chem., 2012,22, 7757-7766
Article type

Switchable information carriers based on shape memory polymer

T. Pretsch, M. Ecker, M. Schildhauer and M. Maskos, J. Mater. Chem., 2012, 22, 7757
DOI: 10.1039/C2JM16204K

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