Highly Cross-Linked Shape Memory Polymers with Tunable Oxidative and Hydrolytic Degradation Rates and Selected Products Based on Succinic Acid

Minimally invasive medical devices are of great interest, with shape memory polymers (SMPs) representing one such possibility for producing these devices. Previous work with low density, highly porous SMPs has demonstrated oxidative degradation, while attempts to incorporate hydrolytic degradation have resulted in rapidly decreasing glass transition temperature (Tg), ultimately preventing strain fixity of the materials at clinically relevant temperatures. Through esterification of the amino alcohol triethanolamine, an alcohol containing network was synthesized and incorporated into SMPs. These ester networks were used to control the bulk morphology of the SMP, with the Tg remaining above 37 °C when 50% of the alcohol was contributed by the ester network. This methodology also yielded SMPs that could degrade through both hydrolysis and oxidation; by oxidation, the SMPs degrade at a similar rate as the control materials (0.2%/day mass) for the first 30 days, at which point the rate changes to 3.5%/day until the samples become too fragile to examine at 80 days. By comparison, control materials have lost approximately 30% of mass by 140 days, at a constant rate of degradation, demonstrating that the ester SMPs are a promising material system for producing more rapidly degradable, soft, porous biomaterials.