Electroactive self-healing shape memory polymer composites based on Diels-Alder chemistry
Both shape memory and self-healing polymers have received significant attention from the materials science community. The former, for their application as actuators, self-deployable structures, and medical devices; and the latter, for extending the lifetime of polymeric products. Both effects can be stimulated by heat, which makes resistive heating a practical approach to trigger these effects. Here we show a conductive polyketone polymer and carbon nanotube composite with cross-links based on the thermo-reversible furan/maleimide Diels-Alder chemistry. This approach resulted in products with efficient electroactive shape memory effect, shape reprogrammability, and self-healing. They exhibit electroactive shape memory behavior with recovery ratios of about 0.9; requiring less than a minute for shape recovery; electroactive self-healing behavior able to repair microcracks and almost fully recover their mechanical properties; requiring a voltage in the order of tens of volts for both shape memory and self-healing effects. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of electroactive self-healing shape memory polymer composites that use covalent reversible Diels-Alder linkages, which yield robust solvent-resistant polymer networks without jeopardizing their reprocessability. These responsive polymers may be ideal for soft robotics and actuators. They are also a step toward sustainable materials by allowing an increased lifetime of use and reprocessability.