Self-sustained actuation from heat dissipation in liquid crystal polymer networks

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Liquid crystal polymer networks (LCNs) lead the research geared toward macroscopic motion of materials. These actuators are molecularly programed to adapt their shape in response to external stimuli. Non-photo-responsive thin films of LCNs covered with heat absorbers (e.g., graphene or ink) are shown to continuously oscillate when exposed to light. The motion is governed by the heat dissipated at the film surface and the anisotropic thermal deformation of the network. The influence of the LC molecular alignment, the film thickness, and the LC matrix on the macroscopic motion is analyzed to probe the limits of the system. The insights gained from these experiments provide not only guidelines to create actuators by photo-thermal or pure photo-effects but also a simple method to generate mechanical oscillators for soft robotics and automated systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1331-1336
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Polymer Science, Part A: Polymer Chemistry
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018


  • Adaptive materials
  • Liquid crystal polymer networks
  • Liquid-crystalline polymers
  • Networks and stimuli-sensitive polymers
  • Oscillatory motion
  • Photo-thermal effect
  • Soft robotics


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