Glassy photomechanical liquid-crystal network actuators for microscale devices


In light-driven liquid-crystal network (LCN) actuators, large performance improvements are obtained by varying the orientation of the molecular director through the thickness of the film actuator. Experiments show that sub-millimeter bending radii are achieved using a splayed molecular orientation. Systems with a splayed or twisted nematic (TN) director profile drive greater amplitude and faster bending than uniaxial planar systems with the same chemical composition. The bending radii of these systems are predicted using a simple model including effects of light intensity, material composition and actuator thickness.

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Correspondence to C. L. van Oosten.

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shows real-time UV-induced actuation of a photomechanical actuator having splayed molecular alignment. The actuator was made using 2 wt.% of the azobenzene-containing monomer A3MA. After the UV light is switched off, the film is left to recover in ambient conditions.

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van Oosten, C.L., Harris, K.D., Bastiaansen, C.W.M. et al. Glassy photomechanical liquid-crystal network actuators for microscale devices. Eur. Phys. J. E 23, 329–336 (2007) doi:10.1140/epje/i2007-10196-1

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  • 61.30.-v Liquid crystals
  • 61.41.+e Polymers, elastomers, and plastics
  • 83.80.Xz Liquid crystals: nematic, cholesteric, smectic, discotic, etc.