An Analysis upon Various Applications of Nanoparticle-Liquid Crystalline Elastomer Composites: Synthesis and Characterization | Original Article
This study focuses on recent developments in the field of liquid crystalline elastomers (LCEs) that bring these materials closer to the world of real applications, concentrating on their actuation properties. First, we briefly introduce different LCE materials that show actuation behavior and explain how they can be synthesized. In the second part, we focus on materials in which a shape change is triggered by a phase transition. In particular, we discuss how the chemistry of the polymeric material influences the strength and direction of the shape change. We review the efforts made to trigger the actuation event by stimuli other than temperature variation. Subsequently, we summarize preparation techniques for various sample geometries of aligned LCEs that all show actuation properties and assign them to particular applications. A short summary is given of devices that have been built in this way. In the third part, we concentrate on actuators that show deformation in an electric field without any phase transition. We start with a short introduction to ferroelectric liquid crystalline elastomers (FLCEs) and discuss molecules exhibiting these phases. Subsequently, we show how the electroclinic effect of FLCEs can be utilized to induce macroscopic deformations by an electric field. Liquid crystalline elastomers (LCEs) are known to perform a reversible change of shape upon the phase transition from the semi-ordered liquid crystalline state to the chaotic isotropic state. This unique behavior of these “artificial muscles” arises from the self-organizing properties of liquid crystals (mesogens) in combination with the entropyelasticity of the slightly crosslinked elastomer network. In this work, micrometer-sized LCE actuators are fabricated in a microfluidic setup. The microtubular shear flow provides for a uniform orientation of the mesogens during the crosslinking, a perquisite for obtaining actuating LCE samples. The thermal and mechanical properties of Liquid Crystal Elastomers (LCEs) were characterized using various techniques for understanding of their physical behavior. The material used for investigation was synthesized by us, using Finklemann procedure, with proper cross linking density in nematic phase. The material is found to have unique coupling between anisotropicorder of liquid crystal component and elasticity of polymer network. The chemical structures were confirmed by Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) Spectroscopy and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). Fabry Perot Scattering Studies (FPSS), Thermo gravimetric Analysis (TGA) and Differential Scanning Calorimatory (DSC) were used to study thermal properties. The mechanical properties were studied using force sensor. Our investigation shows that this synthesized Liquid Crystal Elastomer has ability of spontaneous change as a function of temperature and mechanical force, which shows it as a unique class of soft material.