Non-contact technique for characterizing full-field surface deformation of shape memory polymers at elevated and room temperatures

A. J.W. McClung, G. P. Tandon, K. E. Goecke, J. W. Baur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Thermally activated shape memory polymers (SMPs) can display modulus changes of approximately three orders of magnitude in transitioning from the high modulus, "glassy" state below the glass transition temperature (Tg) to the low modulus, "rubbery" state above the T g. In the high temperature region, SMPs can achieve strain levels well above 100%. Their complex behavior includes large modulus changes to as low as ∼1 MPa, extremely high strain levels, and path dependent properties, thus precluding the use of traditional strain gages and low-contact force extensometers. The present study presents a comparison of thermomechanical testing techniques developed to characterize the material behavior of SMPs. Specifically, the performance of strain measurements using contact methods (clip-on extensometers and adhesive strain gages) are compared to non-contact methods (laser extensometer and digital image correlation). An MTS environmental chamber with an observation window allows for non-contact optical measurements during testing. A series of tensile tests are performed on a commercial SMP (with a Tg of ∼105 °C) at 25 °C and at 130 °C. It is observed that the clip-on extensometer significantly affects the SMP behavior even in the low temperature, high modulus state. Overall, the laser extensometer provides a robust method for controlling the axial strain in the gage section of the samples at moderate strain rates. The digital image correlation allows for full field measurement of both axial and transverse strains of SMPs over a range of temperatures and strain rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-149
Number of pages10
JournalPolymer Testing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Digital image correlation
  • Hencky strain
  • Non-contact methods
  • Poisson's ratio
  • Shape memory polymers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics


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