Many children get their first exposure to shape memory polymers by playing with shrink films — pre-stretched sheets of thermoplastic polystyrene that can be decorated and cut out in whimsical shapes. When the plastic is heated in an oven, it shrinks down to a smaller, thicker version of its original shape. Now new research published in ACS Applied Polymer Materials finds this technology can be used to create durable, single-use grippers that change shape using light. These grippers can support more than 24 000 times their own mass, without the need for exposure to solvents or external pneumatic pressure. The authors say the technology could be used in soft robotics.
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