Poly(vinyl alcohol) particle-reinforced elastomer composites with water-active shape-memory effects

Tongfei Wu, Kevin O'Kelly, Biqiong Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Polymer composites with excellent water-active shape-memory effects (SMEs) were successfully prepared using polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) submicron particles as the SME-activating phase and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) as the resilient source and matrix. The incorporation of high-modulus, hydrophilic PVA particles (with a size of 80-200 nm) improved the Young's modulus and water uptake of elastomeric and hydrophobic TPU significantly, which leads to large changes of the modulus upon exposure to water. Water acted as a plasticizer of PVA phase, decreasing its modulus. Such modulus changes were reversible and dependent on the content of PVA particles, which can be up to 16 times. As a result, the shape-memory performance of the composite was also dependent on the content of PVA particles. The PVA particle-reinforced TPU composite containing 15 vol.% PVA particles exhibited the best SMEs among the composites investigated, with the shape fixing and shape recovery ratios being 97% and 97%, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-237
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Polymer Journal
Early online date03 Feb 2014
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


  • Mechanical properties
  • Polymer-matrix composites
  • Shape-memory effects
  • Smart materials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Organic Chemistry


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