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Title: Shape Recovery with Concomitant Mechanical Strengthening of Amphiphilic Shape Memory Polymers in Warm Water

Maintaining adequate or enhancing mechanical properties of shape memory polymers (SMPs) after shape recovery in an aqueous environment are greatly desired for biomedical applications of SMPs as self-fitting tissue scaffolds or minimally invasive surgical implants. Here we report stable temporary shape fixing and facile shape recovery of biodegradable triblock amphiphilic SMPs containing a poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) center block and flanking poly(lactic acid) or poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) blocks in warm water, accompanied with concomitant enhanced mechanical strengths. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), wide-angle X-ray diffraction (WXRD) and small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) analyses revealed that the unique stiffening of the amphiphilic SMPs upon hydration was due to hydration-driven microphase separation and PEG crystallization. We further demonstrated that the chemical composition of degradable blocks in these SMPs could be tailored to affect the persistence of hydration-induced stiffening upon subsequent dehydration. These properties combined open new horizons for these amphiphilic SMPs for smart weight-bearing in vivo applications (e.g. as self-fitting intervertebral discs). In conclusion, this study also provides a new material design strategy to strengthen polymers in aqueous environment in general.
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Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 9; Journal Issue: 5; Journal ID: ISSN 1944-8244
American Chemical Society (ACS)
Research Org:
Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22)
Country of Publication:
United States
36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; hydration-induced stiffening effect; shape memory; amphiphilic biodegradable polymers; minimal invasive surgery; weight-bearing implantation
OSTI Identifier: