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Title: Electrospun liquid crystal elastomer microfiber actuator

Fibers capable of generating axial contraction are commonly seen in nature and engineering applications. Despite the broad applications of fiber actuators, it is still very challenging to fabricate fiber actuators with combined large actuation strain, fast response speed, and high power density. Here, we report the fabrication of a liquid crystal elastomer (LCE) microfiber actuators using a facile electrospinning technique. Owing to the extremely small size of the LCE microfibers, they can generate large actuation strain (~60 percent) with a fast response speed (<0.2 second) and a high power density (400 watts per kilogram), resulting from the nematic-isotropic phase transition of liquid crystal mesogens. Moreover, no performance degradation is detected in the LCE microfibers after 106cycles of loading and unloading with the maximum strain of 20 percent at high temperature (90 degree Celsius). The small diameter of the LCE microfiber also results in a self-oscillatory behavior in a steady temperature field. In addition, with a polydopamine coating layer, the actuation of the electrospun LCE microfiber can be precisely and remotely controlled by a near-infrared laser through photothermal effect. Using the electrospun LCE microfiber actuator, we have successfully constructed a microtweezer, a microrobot, and a light-powered microfluidic pump.

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Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Science Robotics
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Article No. eabi9704
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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