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Triple-Shape Plastics for Surgery 27

Roland Piquepaille writes "In Plastics' Day in Surgery, Red Herring reports that an international team of U.S. and German researchers has developed a new kind of plastic that can shift between three different shapes when the temperature increases. Even if these polymeric triple-shape materials have not emerged from the lab, they could eventually be employed as removable 'stents' and self-closing fasteners used by surgeons and more generally by the healthcare industry. The Emerging Tech ZDNet blog has additional references and pictures of these morphing plastics."
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Triple-Shape Plastics for Surgery

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  • Here's his additional references and pictures:

    In Plastics Day in Surgery [redherring.com], Red Herring reports that an international team of U.S. and German researchers has developed a new kind of plastic that can shift between three different shapes when the temperature increases. Even if these polymeric triple-shape materials have not emerged from the lab, they could eventually be employed as removable stents and self-closing fasteners used by surgeons and more generally by the healthcare industry. But read more

    This research work has been done partially at the MIT in Professor Robert Langer [mit.edu]s research lab [mit.edu]. Please note that Ive already covered a previous Langers project in "Light Used to Design Shape-Shifting Plastics [primidi.com]" (April 14, 2005).

    For this new kind of plastic, Langer worked with Professor Andreas Lendlein [www.gkss.de], director of the Institute of Polymer Research [www.gkss.de] at the GKSS Research Center in Teltow, Germany, and his team.

    This research work has been published online before print by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) under the name "Polymeric triple-shape materials" (November 20, 2006). Here is a link to the abstract [pnas.org].

    Shape-memory polymers represent a promising class of materials that can move from one shape to another in response to a stimulus such as heat. Thus far, these systems are dual-shape materials. Here, we report a triple-shape polymer able to change from a first shape (A) to a second shape (B) and from there to a third shape (C). Shapes B and C are recalled by subsequent temperature increases. Whereas shapes A and B are fixed by physical cross-links, shape C is defined by covalent cross-links established during network formation.

    The triple-shape effect is a general concept that requires the application of a two-step programming process to suitable polymers and can be realized for various polymer networks whose molecular structure allows formation of at least two separated domains providing pronounced physical cross-links. These domains can act as the switches, which are used in the two-step programming process for temporarily fixing shapes A and B. It is demonstrated that different combinations of shapes A and B for a polymer network in a given shape C can be obtained by adjusting specific parameters of the programming process.

    Below is a series of photographs illustrating this triple-shape effect. On the left is a tube which could be used as a stent and on the right is fastener consisting of a plate with anchors. From top to bottom, you can see the shape evolution when the temperature increases to 40C (in B) and 60C (in C). (Credit: MIT/GKSS Research Center). This image has been extracted from the PNAS paper mentioned above.

    Picture [primidi.com]

    In "Morphing Materials Take On New Shapes [technologyreview.com]," Technology Review describes this process in plain English.

    Lendlein says the key to the new structures was developing two types of polymers that have distinct melting points. At room temperature, the material holds its first shape. But when heated above a certain temperature, areas throughout the material soften, allowing it to change to an intermediate shape. At a yet higher transition temperature, the rest of the material softens, allowing the structure to take its final shape.

    But what would be these

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 25, 2006 @05:04PM (#16986962)
    hello prosthetic "limb" and a warming massage oils

    haha

    (couldn't resist)
  • Plastic surgeons could create artificial boobies that can morph into three different shapes, depending on the weather. Four if you count erect nipples.
    • heh...

      just imagine the set of devils horns you could display when angry...

      or

      the pinochio nose when fibbing...

      or

      the spock ears for the next trekkie convention...
  • All of this brings new meaning to 98.6.
  • I have some plastics that change shape with temperature. Its called melting?

    All kidding aside.. think of the uses this might have in other fields.

    Security- don't want someone opening your door? heat a blob and it keeps it closed.
    Theme parks- Ever-changing water slides on hot days!
    PC's- Talk about modding!

    Brain hurts... kthxbye
  • Morphing Plastics?! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Karganeth ( 1017580 ) on Saturday November 25, 2006 @05:42PM (#16987228)
    I have a feeling that we will soon see a new generation of dildos.
  • So, how long until the iPod touchscreen will have a shape-changing plastic cover that allows for various dynamic tactile surfaces?

    Hehe... I put my iPod in my pocket and my body heat changed it into an [insert your joke here]..
  • Self-sealing stembolts?
  • The concept of a temperature sensitive plastic is interesting but I have seen in clinical trials substances even more strange and amazing. These are substances with "reverse thermal gelation properties". In general, stuff is liquid when hot and when colled becomes solid (really just about any stuff in the world). Well-- substabnces have been created with reverse properties - that is they are liquids when coooler and SOLIDIFY when heated! THe first medical use was a spray on scar tissue prevention substa
  • I know it's not even out of the lab yet, but for the record, using this for removable stents is sketchy. I'm picturing a design where the stent automatically expands off the catheter as it reaches body temperature, and changing the temperature of the stent again (e.g. placing another balloon catheter in there and filling it with cold water) causes it to contract back onto a catheter. Depending on body chemistry, the blood vessel usually grows around the implanted stent over time, so to be removed, either (

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