Electroactive Polymer Using Shape Memory Alloy

Introduction Shape memory polymers have shown tremendous promise for a wide variety of applications for their ability to “remember” a previous state when heated. Unfortunately, they have been slow to develop commercial availability. Many of these polymers also have small compression ratios. However, many of the same properties desired in shape memory polymers can be mimicked using shape memory alloys (SMA) in a polymer framework. This technique has many advantages over shape memory polymers, including higher compression ratios with tunable stiffness and damping characteristics without sacrificing malleability. Technology Description Professor Wang at the University of Washington has developed an electroactive polymer that utilizes complex shape memory alloy (SMA) structures embedded within a foam matrix. With a voltage applied, the SMA structures revert to their “remembered” state and the foam matrix accommodates the new shape. Business Opportunity This technique presents opportunities anywhere that shape memory polymers could be used, including biomimetic, biomedical, and surgical applications. Additionally, due to its increased compression ratios and tunable characteristics, this technique presents opportunities in many other fields. Intellectual Property Position The UW is currently reviewing this technology for worldwide patent protection.

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