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Liquid crystal elastomers

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Liquid crystal elastomers are remarkable materials that couple the large strain elasticity of rubber with the mobile orientational order of liquid crystals. This coupling gives rise to a plethora of surprising phenomena including deformation (almost) without elastic cost, actuation in response to heat, light and electric fields, and microstuctral response to imposed deformations. In this seminar I will give an overview of the (surprisingly simple) theory of liquid crystal elastomers then discuss my own work on polydomain nematic elastomers. I will argue polydomains are softer, easier to fabricate and make better actuators than the monodomain elastomers that have dominated the field to date.

This talk is part of the Surfaces, Microstructure and Fracture Group series.

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