Materials that undergo reversible changes in form typically require top‐down processing to program the microstructure of the material. As a result, it is difficult to program microscale, 3D shape‐morphing materials that undergo non‐uniaxial deformations. Here, a simple bottom‐up fabrication approach to prepare bending microactuators is described. Spontaneous self‐assembly of liquid crystal (LC) monomers with controlled chirality within 3D micromold results in a change in molecular orientation across thickness of the microstructure. As a result, heating induces bending in these microactuators. The concentration of chiral dopant is varied to adjust the chirality of the monomer mixture. Liquid crystal elastomer (LCE) microactuators doped with 0.05 wt% of chiral dopant produce needle‐shaped actuators that bend from flat to an angle of 27.2 ± 11.3° at 180 °C. Higher concentrations of chiral dopant lead to actuators with reduced bending, and lower concentrations of chiral dopant lead to actuators with poorly controlled bending. Asymmetric molecular alignment inside 3D structure is confirmed by sectioning actuators. Arrays of microactuators that all bend in the same direction can be fabricated if symmetry of geometry of the microstructure is broken. It is envisioned that the new platform to synthesize microstructures can further be applied in soft robotics and biomedical devices.
Mesoscale chiral materials are prepared by lithographic methods, assembly of chiral building blocks, and through syntheses in the presence of polarized light. Typically, these processes result in micrometer‐sized structures, require complex top–down manipulation, or rely on tedious asymmetric separation. Chemical vapor deposition (CVD) polymerization of chiral precursors into supported films of liquid crystals (LCs) are discovered to result in superhierarchical arrangements of enantiomorphically pure nanofibers. Depending on the molecular chirality of the 1‐hydroxyethyl [2.2]paracyclophane precursor, extended arrays of enantiomorphic nanohelices are formed from achiral nematic templates. Arrays of chiral nanohelices extend over hundreds of micrometers and consistently display enantiomorphic micropatterns. The pitch of individual nanohelices depends on the enantiomeric excess and the purity of the chiral precursor, consistent with the theoretical model of a doubly twisted LC director configuration. During CVD of chiral precursors into cholesteric LC films, aspects of molecular and mesoscale asymmetry combine constructively to form regularly twisted nanohelices. Enantiomorphic surfaces permit the tailoring of a wide range of functional properties, such as the asymmetric induction of weak chiral systems.more » « less
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Advanced Materials
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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