4D Chiral Photonic Actuators with Switchable Hyper-Reflectivity

Pei Zhang, Guofu Zhou, Laurens T. de Haan (Corresponding author), Albert P.H.J. Schenning (Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Cholesteric liquid crystals (CLCs) are chiral photonic materials reflecting only circularly polarized light with the same handedness as the helical polymer structure. Concurrent shape and color changes can be achieved using CLCs, but the fabrication of CLCs with switchable 3D shape, structural color, and hyper-reflectivity, that is, reflecting both left- and right-handed circularly polarized light simultaneously, has not yet been achieved. Here, CLC elastomer (CLCE) actuators are reported to reflect equal amounts of left- and right-handed circularly polarized light. Hyper-reflectivity is achieved by uniaxially stretching the partially crosslinked film to induce helix deformation which is then fully crosslinked to fix the deformed helical structure. The shape, structural color, and hyper-reflectivity of the polymer film are switchable with temperature. At high temperatures, only right-handed circularly polarized light is reflected and the color is redshifted. The film can be shaped in three dimensions: a structural colored 3D shaped beetle is fabricated using molding, which reflects both left- and right-handed circularly polarized light and shows reversible, temperature responsive structural color and 3D shape changes. Hence, 4D engineered bioinspired multifunctional materials are fabricated, which are interesting for applications ranging from sensing actuators to switchable hyper-reflective films and objects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2007887
Number of pages9
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2021


  • hyper-reflectivity
  • liquid crystal elastomers
  • photonic materials
  • soft actuators
  • structural color


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