Shape-programmable liquid crystal elastomer structures with arbitrary three-dimensional director fields and geometries

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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  • Yubing Guo
  • Jiachen Zhang
  • Wenqi Hu
  • Muhammad Turab Ali Khan
  • Metin Sitti

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Original languageEnglish
Article number5936
Journal / PublicationNature Communications
Online published12 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021



Liquid crystal elastomers exhibit large reversible strain and programmable shape transformations, enabling various applications in soft robotics, dynamic optics, and programmable origami and kirigami. The morphing modes of these materials depend on both their geometries and director fields. In two dimensions, a pixel-by-pixel design has been accomplished to attain more flexibility over the spatial resolution of the liquid crystal response. Here we generalize this idea in two steps. First, we create independent, cubic light-responsive voxels, each with a predefined director field orientation. Second, these voxels are in turn assembled to form lines, grids, or skeletal structures that would be rather difficult to obtain from an initially connected material sample. In this way, the orientation of the director fields can be made to vary at voxel resolution to allow for programmable optically- or thermally-triggered anisotropic or heterogeneous material responses and morphology changes in three dimensions that would be impossible or hard to implement otherwise.

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