Photoresponsive fiber array: toward mimicking the collective motion of cilia for transport applications

A.H. Gelebart, M. Mc Bride, A.P.H.J. Schenning, C.N. Bowman, D.J. Broer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

109 Citations (Scopus)
220 Downloads (Pure)


Remote transport of material is an utmost useful, but challenging, property expanding the design possibilities of many applications such as microfluidics or robotics where species can be carried without interfering with its environment. Nature has solved the problem of transport in e.g., the respiratory system by a concerted motion of cilia. This study addresses a new method to fabricate an array of small parallel fibers acting as cilia placed side by side on a substrate. The fibers consist of a crosslinked liquid crystal main chain polymer functionalized with coreactant azobenzene molecules. The fibers bend toward a light source in a concerted manner. When placed in a liquid, the cooperative bending motion of the fibers creates a flow able to efficiently carry objects. The proposed fabrication process of the fibers is scalable to large area and requires an optimized rheology which is achieved by converting low molecular weight reactive liquid crystal acrylate monomers to oligomers using a multiplication of the monomeric units by the Michael addition reaction with dithiol. The oligomer properties and the elasticity of the fibers are adjusted by changing the thiol spacer leading to optimized manufacturing and maximized optical response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5322-5327
Number of pages6
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number29
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2016


  • azobenzene
  • cilias
  • fibers
  • liquid crystals
  • photoresponsive


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