Polymer Engineering Faculty Research


Carbonaceous fillers for shape memory actuation of polyurethane composites by resistive heating

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Publication Date

Fall 2009


The effectiveness of carbonaceous, electrically conductive fillers in shape memory actuation of polyurethane composites by resistive heating was evaluated. Specifically, the dependence of electrical resistivity on specimen temperature and imposed tensile strains encountered in shape memory test cycles was determined for shape memory polyurethane (SMPU) composites of carbon nanofiber (CNF), oxidized carbon nanofiber (ox-CNF), and carbon black (CB). The SMPU composites with crystalline soft segments were synthesized from diphenylmethane di-isocyanate, 1,4-butanediol, and poly(caprolactone)diol in a low-shear chaotic mixer and in an internal mixer. The materials synthesized in the chaotic mixer showed higher soft segment crystallinity and lower electrical percolation threshold. A reduction in soft segment crystallinity was observed in the presence of CNF and ox-CNF; the reduction was smaller in the case of ox-CNF. Only the composites of CB showed pronounced positive temperature coefficient (PTC) effects. The observed PTC effects bore a close relationship with non-linear thermal expansion during heating. The composites of CNF and ox-CNF did not show PTC effects due to low levels of soft segment crystallinity. The resistivity of composites of CB increased by several orders of magnitude with imposed tensile strain while composites of CNF and ox-CNF showed weak dependence on strain.



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