TechConnect Innovation Spotlight: Shape Memory Polymers

February 18, 2014 03:34 PM EST By: Regina Ramazzini

UR Ventures, University of Rochester, TechConnect World-National Innovation Summit 2013, Washington, DC

The mission of the University of Rochester’s UR Ventures is to expand great innovations into valuable products and services that make the world ever better.

The University has developed a class of shape memory polymers with a unique property: the shape recovery rate is adjustable. The polymers can be structurally tailored to fit different applications since the rate of strain relaxation is influenced by the number and type of covalent cross-links, non-covalent hydrogen bonds, and temperature.

Lead Inventor Mitchell Anthamatten, who earned his PhD at MIT, of the Chemical Engineering department leads a 9-person research group dedicated to the bottom-up engineering of polymeric materials: from synthesis to characterization to processing. The current focus applies reversible, non-covalent interactions to influence polymer phase behavior and to promote polymer self-assembly and responsiveness.

Patrick Emmerling, Licensing Manager at UR Ventures, shared with TechConnect News the advantages of the university’s development of a unique class of shape memory polymers:  “Dr. Anthamatten’s unique polymers utilize hydrogen bonding unlike traditional polymers. They remain soft and elastic, below transition temperature. Moreover, the shape recovery rate is adjustable. Instead of snapping right back into place, you can tailor it to slowly return to its original shape when its temperature is brought to its transition temperature. This opens it up to a number of new applications such as bio medical applications.”

Dr. Emmerling told us that since his participation at the TechConnect National Innovation Summit, “Research is ongoing. We received a great deal of market feedback on what companies need to see before they are ready to invest, both in way of research and what they thought of potential applications. Hopefully, in the not too distant future, we’ll have a more refined technology and a better value proposition for specific markets.”

At this time, UR’s focus is on the Biomedical Device, textile, packaging, and aerospace industries.

For more information about the technology, please visit: or contact Patrick Emmerling at


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