Bidirectional actuation of a thermoplastic polyurethane elastomer†
Herein, we report on how to teach a thermoplastic polyurethane elastomer completely stress-free, bidirectional motion. Briefly spoken, we applied training, consisting of extensive tensile deformation in the specimen's viscoelastic state, initiating deformation-induced crystallization. Once unloaded, thermo-reversible specimen expansion and contraction could be detected. Following the microstructural evolution of such a trained specimen by in situ wide-angle X-ray scattering gave evidence for progressive growth of oriented crystallites during cooling. Upon heating, crystallite melting resulted in structural disorder. Beyond this, modification of the training method was used to introduce a geometrically more complex crystalline order. Here, actuation in the form of a decrease and an increase in sample thickness and specimen twisting and untwisting were witnessed. The novel semi-crystalline polymer actuator highlights an enormous potential for realizing versatile reversible shape changes in elastomers.
- This article is part of the themed collection: 2013 Journal of Materials Chemistry A Hot Papers