Shape-memory polymers

Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2002 Jun 17;41(12):2035-57.


Material scientists predict a prominent role in the future for self-repairing and intelligent materials. Throughout the last few years, this concept has found growing interest as a result of the rise of a new class of polymers. These so-called shape-memory polymers by far surpass well-known metallic shape-memory alloys in their shape-memory properties. As a consequence of the relatively easy manufacture and programming of shape-memory polymers, these materials represent a cheap and efficient alternative to well-established shape-memory alloys. In shape-memory polymers, the consequences of an intended or accidental deformation caused by an external force can be ironed out by heating the material above a defined transition temperature. This effect can be achieved because of the given flexibility of the polymer chains. When the importance of polymeric materials in our daily life is taken into consideration, we find a very broad, additional spectrum of possible applications for intelligent polymers that covers an area from minimally invasive surgery, through high-performance textiles, up to self-repairing plastic components in every kind of transportation vehicles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alloys / chemistry
  • Elastomers
  • Intelligence
  • Memory
  • Molecular Structure
  • Polymers / chemistry*
  • Temperature
  • Thermodynamics


  • Alloys
  • Elastomers
  • Polymers