A method and apparatus for loading deposit material, such as an embolic coil, into a shape memory polymer (SMP) gripping/release mechanism. The apparatus enables the application of uniform pressure to secure a grip by the SMP mechanism on the deposit material via differential pressure between, for example, vacuum within the SMP mechanism and hydrostatic water pressure on the exterior of the SMP mechanism. The SMP tubing material of the mechanism is heated to above the glass transformation temperature (Tg) while reshaping, and subsequently cooled to below Tg to freeze the shape. The heating and/or cooling may, for example, be provided by the same water applied for pressurization or the heating can be applied by optical fibers packaged to the SMP mechanism for directing a laser beam, for example, thereunto. At a point of use, the deposit material is released from the SMP mechanism by reheating the SMP material to above the temperature Tg whereby it returns to its initial shape. The reheating of the SM material may be carried out by injecting heated fluid (water) through an associated catheter or by optical fibers and an associated beam of laser light, for example.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.