(357f) Nanostructured Shape Memory Polymers for Reconfigurable Nanooptics

Authors: 
Fang, Y., University of Florida
Leo, S. Y., University of Florida
Jiang, P., University of Florida

Smart shape memory polymers (SMPs) can memorize and recover their permanent shape in response to an external stimulus, such as heat, light, and solvent. They have been extensively exploited for a wide spectrum of applications ranging from biomedical devices to aerospace morphing structures. However, most of the existing SMPs are thermoresponsive and their performance is hindered by slow response speed, heat-demanding programming and recovery steps. Here, by integrating scientific principles drawn from two disparate fields that do not typically intersect - the fast-growing photonic crystal and SMP technologies, we demonstrate a new type of SMP that enables unusual "cold" programming and instantaneous shape recovery triggered by exposing the samples to various organic vapors, such as acetone, ethanol, and toluene. These nanostructured stimuli-responsive materials differ greatly from existing bulk SMPs as they enable orders of magnitude faster response, striking chromogenic effects, and room-temperature operations for the entire shape memory cycle, promising for many applications ranging from reusable chromogenic vapor sensors to reconfigurable nanooptical devices. Moreover, this interdisciplinary integration provides a simple and sensitive optical technique for investigating the intriguing shape memory effects at nanoscale.