Strategies for developing shape-shifting behaviours and potential applications of poly(N-vinyl Caprolactam) hydrogels
Hieng, Billy Shu Hieng
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Stimuli-responsive hydrogels are one type of smart hydrogel, which can expand/contract in water according to changes in the surrounding environment. However, it is difficult to develop flexible shapeshifting behaviours by using a single hydrogel material. This study exploited a new method to utilise single and bilayer structures to allow hydrogel-based materials to exhibit controllable shapeshifting behaviours. Although other studies have demonstrated similar transformation behaviours, this is the first report of such smart materials developed using photopolymerised N-vinyl caprolactam (NVCL)-based polymers. Our contribution provides a straightforward method in the fabrication of deformable structures. In the presence of water, the bending behaviours (vertex-to-vertex and edge-to-edge) were achieved in monolayer squares. By controlling the content and combination of the NVCL solutions with elastic resin, the bilayer strips were prepared. The expected reversible self-bending and self-helixing behaviours were achieved in specific types of samples. In addition, by limiting the expansion time of the bilayer, the layered flower samples exhibited predictable selfcurving shape transformation behaviour in at least three cycles of testing. These structures displayed the capacity of self-transformation, and the value and functionality of the produced components are reflected in this paper.
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