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Mathematical and numerical modeling of liquid crystal elastomer phase transition and deformation

TitleMathematical and numerical modeling of liquid crystal elastomer phase transition and deformation
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference2012
AuthorsDe Luca, M, DeSimone, A
Conference NameMaterials Research Society Symposium Proceedings. Volume 1403, 2012, Pages 125-130
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISBN Number9781605113807
KeywordsArtificial muscle

Liquid crystal (in particular, nematic) elastomers consist of cross-linked flexible polymer chains with embedded stiff rod molecules that allow them to behave as a rubber and a liquid crystal. Nematic elastomers are characterized by a phase transition from isotropic to nematic past a temperature threshold. They behave as rubber at high temperature and show nematic behavior below the temperature threshold. Such transition is reversible. While in the nematic phase, the rod molecules are aligned along the direction of the "nematic director". This molecular rearrangement induces a stretch in the polymer chains and hence macroscopic spontaneous deformations. The coupling between nematic order parameter and deformation gives rise to interesting phenomena with a potential for new interesting applications. In the biological field, the ability to considerably change their length makes them very promising as artificial muscles actuators. Their tunable optical properties make them suitable, for example, as lenses for new imaging systems. We present a mathematical model able to describe the behavior of nematic elastomers and numerical simulations reproducing such peculiar behavior. We use a geometrically linear version of the Warner and Terentjev model [1] and consider cooling experiments and stretching experiments in the direction perpendicular to the one of the director at cross-linking.


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