Tunable Electromechanical Liquid Crystal Elastomer Actuators

Tyler Guin, Holly E. Hinton, Eric Burgeson, Christopher C. Bowland, Logan T. Kearney, Yuzhan Li, Ilia Ivanov, Ngoc A. Nguyen, Amit K. Naskar
2020 Advanced Intelligent Systems  
Liquid crystal elastomers (LCE) are soft materials which anisotropically shape morph in response to external stimuli. Here, a method to produce large area carbon nanotube-LCE nanocomposite films with exceptional electrostrictive properties is examined. A methodology to produce telechelic precursor oligomeric composites at scale (>100 g) is presented along with the continuous casting and photocuring process. The carbon nanotubes are well-aligned and well-dispersed in the films, which exhibit
more » ... , which exhibit exceptional anisotropic thermo-mechanical, optical, and thermal shape change characteristics. When an electric field is applied through the film thickness, the material quickly and reversibly contracts along the alignment direction. As an example, a compliant carbon nanotube-LCE film contracts >4% against a 140 kPa load, roughly comparable to the blocking force of many natural muscular tissues. Further, we demonstrate that this tunable contraction is dependent upon the electric field strength, and that
doi:10.1002/aisy.202000022 fatcat:aspxb46rjnbc7lwxshty4a4u3m