Transversely Curved Actuators for Shape Memory Polymers that Increase Shape Recoverability

Technology #14841

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Peter G. Ifju
Jason T Cantrell
Managed By
Richard Croley
Assistant Director 352-392-8929
Patent Protection
US Patent Pending US-2017-0194553

Transversely Curved Actuators Reduce Residual Deformation to Overcome Shape Recovery Issues

These shape memory polymer unimorph actuators feature curvature in the actuator substrate, improving shape recovery, retaining shape fixity, and reducing residual deformation. Shape memory materials are smart materials with the capability to change shape while “remembering” their original shape, and can be tailored for activation by stimuli such as light, chemicals, electricity, or temperature. Shape memory polymers have several applications, including use in the aerospace, defense and medical industries. Available shape memory polymers have yet to overcome the unrecovered shape problem after a single or multiple recovery cycles – they never fully return to their original shape. University of Florida researchers have integrated transversely curved substrates into shape memory material unimorphs in order to combat recovery issues, retain shape fixity, and enable more accurate deployment of shape memory structures.


Transversely curved unimorph actuators incorporating shape memory polymers that improve shape recovery by reducing residual deformation


  • Improves shape recovery, achieving more accurate deployment of shape memory material structures
  • Reduces residual deformation, enhancing the performance of shape memory polymers
  • Can be used in any shape memory material, including alloys
  • Does not hinder the shape fixity of the shape memory material while in the stored configuration


Shape memory material unimorph actuators are often formed from an active layer (in this case, shape memory polymers) and an inactive supporting material (bi-directional carbon-fiber-reinforced-polymer (CFRP)). The shape memory polymer actuator can be prepared by forming the inactive supporting material into the desired shape, including the curvature needed, then combining the active layer with the formed supporting material. Any shape memory material can be used, including both polymers and alloys. The testing conducted on the incorporation of curved actuators into shape memory polymers resulted in shape memory polymer actuators with significantly reduced residual deformation and increased recoverability.