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Proceedings Paper

Light-induced disorder in liquid-crystalline elastomers for actuation
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Paper Abstract

Liquid-Crystalline Elastomers (LCEs) are materials which combine the entropic properties of a crosslinked polymer melt with the enthalpic properties of a liquid-crystalline state of order. LCEs show unique characteristics: visco-elasticity and order at the same time in one system. The elastic and the viscous properties come from the crosslinking and friction of the polymer chains, respectively, while the orientation comes from the mesophase which keeps the polymer backbone aligned. LCEs behave as normal polymer networks or rubbers when no energy-storing mesophase is present. This state of disorder can be induced by means of temperature or light. Thermally, the change in shape of LCEs can easily reach 300% when all the enthalpy stored by the mesophase is released and the crosslinked polymer chains are free to move and adopt a random coil conformation. The light-induced local disorder can be achieved when shape-changing molecules are incorporated in the LCE matrix. These compounds are able to absorb light, rearrange themselves in a new shape and subsequently disturbing the mesophase. This results in the molecules that are keeping the order no longer being able to sustain the retractive force of the polymer backbone, and the material contracts, exerting an actuating force. But how does a light sensitive side-chain LCE elastomer behave? And a main-chain LCE? What about nematics or smectics? Is a different kind of actuation, besides the common retractive force, possible? To answer these questions, new chemistry needs to be developed, together with new physics to understand the systems, and new applications need to be created.

Paper Details

Date Published: 31 August 2011
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 8107, Nano-Opto-Mechanical Systems (NOMS), 810702 (31 August 2011); doi: 10.1117/12.897354
Show Author Affiliations
Antoni Sánchez-Ferrer, ETH Zurich (Switzerland)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8107:
Nano-Opto-Mechanical Systems (NOMS)
Jaume Esteve; Eugene M. Terentjev; Eva M. Campo, Editor(s)

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