Liquid crystal elastomers (LCEs) are a class of stimuli-responsive polymers that undergo reversible shape-change in response to environmental changes. The shape change of LCEs can be programmed during processing by orienting the liquid crystal phase prior to crosslinking. The suite of processing techniques that has been developed has resulted in a myriad of LCEs with different shape-changing behavior and mechanical properties. Aligning LCEs via mechanical straining yields large uniaxial actuators capable of a moderate force output. Magnetic fields are utilized to control the alignment within LCE microstructures. The generation of out-of-plane deformations such as bending, twisting, and coning is enabled by surface alignment techniques within thin films. 4D printing processes have emerged that enable the fabrication of centimeter-scale, 3D LCE structures with a complex alignment. The processing technique also determines, to a large extent, the potential applications of the LCE. For example, 4D printing enables the fabrication of LCE actuators capable of replicating the forces generated by human muscles. Employing surface alignment techniques, LCE films can be designed for use as coatings or as substrates for stretchable electronics. The growth of new processes and strategies opens and strengthens the path for LCEs to be applicable within biomedical device designs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)