Shape memory polymeric nanocompsites for biological applications
The aim of this work is to develop novel shape memory polymers (SMPs) and nanocomposites for potential biological applications. A kind of commercial SMP, shape memory polyurethane (SMPU), was used to prepare nanocomposites by incorporating nano-clay into the SMPU substrate. The mechanical behaviour, thermal property and shape memory efficiency were studied with various nanofiller loadings. Chemical synthesis methods were also employed to prepare the other designable SMP and its nanocomposites, i.e. the shape memory polystyrene co-polymer (SMPS). Multiple technologies were adopted to enhance the SMPS matrix such as modifying the chemical components, introducing various functional nanoparticles into the polymeric network and improving the dispersion of the nanoparticles. Different methods were used to characterize the overall performance of the obtained materials. Mechanical tests were performed at different dimensional scales with a varied degree of localisation. Nanoindentation was firstly applied to assess the micro-mechanical properties of shape memory polymer nanocomposites at scales down to particle size. The micro-mechanical analysis provided the fundamental information on the SMPs and their nanocomposites for bio-MEMS applications. Potential applications were also explored through manufacturing different type of device models and testing their shape recovery efficiencies. Finally, theoretical contributions were made in two areas. The first one was the theoretical analysis on the nanoparticles enhancement to the soft polymeric matrix. The other was in developing a constitutive model to describe the thermo-viscoelastic property and shape memory behaviour for SMP nanocomposites.