Exploring the Effect of Environmental Degradation on the Shape Memory Properties of Polymers

Jorge Mario Avila Barraza, University of Texas at El Paso


A key detriment of the use of polymers by our society is the negative effect this material class has had on the environment. A category of polymers known as shape memory polymers (SMP)s have the ability to return to a programmed original shape form after deformation to a temporary shape by using stimuli such as temperature, electrical pulses and even magnetism. The shape memory effect allows for some polymers to heal if they are damaged. This ability to heal means that components made from these materials can be reused rather than thrown away if they are damaged. The work presented in the thesis is intended to provide information related to the ability of a material to maintain shape memory properties and how these self-healing mechanisms can mitigate environmental degradation. Here, we compare the effects of two manufacturing techniques: additive manufacturing and injection molding in order to determine the influence of processing on material properties. This effort is pursued based on the premise that self-healing materials provide an avenue for the reduction of polymeric waste, a problem that is growing more detrimental to the environment. The shape memory effect is a critical component of the self-healing process in polymers. It is my goal to contribute to the solvency of a societal problem by understanding the structure, process, property, performance relationship of novel shape memory polymeric systems.

Subject Area

Engineering|Plastics|Materials science

Recommended Citation

Barraza, Jorge Mario Avila, "Exploring the Effect of Environmental Degradation on the Shape Memory Properties of Polymers" (2022). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI30243918.