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Title: Soft elasticity optimises dissipation in 3D-printed liquid crystal elastomers
Abstract Soft-elasticity in monodomain liquid crystal elastomers (LCEs) is promising for impact-absorbing applications where strain energy is ideally absorbed at constant stress. Conventionally, compressive and impact studies on LCEs have not been performed given the notorious difficulty synthesizing sufficiently large monodomain devices. Here, we use direct-ink writing 3D printing to fabricate bulk (>cm 3 ) monodomain LCE devices and study their compressive soft-elasticity over 8 decades of strain rate. At quasi-static rates, the monodomain soft-elastic LCE dissipated 45% of strain energy while comparator materials dissipated less than 20%. At strain rates up to 3000 s −1 , our soft-elastic monodomain LCE consistently performed closest to an ideal-impact absorber. Drop testing reveals soft-elasticity as a likely mechanism for effectively reducing the severity of impacts – with soft elastic LCEs offering a Gadd Severity Index 40% lower than a comparable isotropic elastomer. Lastly, we demonstrate tailoring deformation and buckling behavior in monodomain LCEs via the printed director orientation.  more » « less
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Nature Communications
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Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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