Solvent stimulated actuation of polyurethane-based shape memory polymer foams using dimethyl sulfoxide and ethanol

A. J. Boyle, A. C. Weems, S. M. Hasan, L. D. Nash, M. B.B. Monroe, D. J. Maitland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Solvent exposure has been investigated to trigger actuation of shape memory polymers (SMPs) as an alternative to direct heating. This study aimed to investigate the feasibility of using dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and ethanol (EtOH) to stimulate polyurethane-based SMP foam actuation and the required solvent concentrations in water for rapid actuation of hydrophobic SMP foams. SMP foams exhibited decreased T g when submerged in DMSO and EtOH when compared to water submersion. Kinetic DMA experiments showed minimal or no relaxation for all SMP foams in water within 30 min, while SMP foams submerged in EtOH exhibited rapid relaxation within 1 min of submersion. SMP foams expanded rapidly in high concentrations of DMSO and EtOH solutions, where complete recovery over 30 min was observed in DMSO concentrations greater than 90% and in EtOH concentrations greater than 20%. This study demonstrates that both DMSO and EtOH are effective at triggering volume recovery of polyurethane-based SMP foams, including in aqueous environments, and provides promise for use of this actuation technique in various applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number075014
JournalSmart Materials and Structures
Issue number7
StatePublished - May 24 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • SMP foam
  • actuation
  • shape memory polymer
  • solvent

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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