“Programming intelligence in anisotropic soft materials”
Anisotropic nanomaterials such as liquid crystal elastomer (LCE) and their composites with functional inorganic nanorods and nanosheets combine intrinsic anisotropy and unique functionality, rendering them highly efficient actuators in response to external stimuli, such as light, heat, electric and magnetic fields.
Programmable shape-shifting materials can take different physical forms to achieve multifunctionality in a dynamic and controllable manner. We take geometry from nano- to macroscales by pre-programming and reprogramming molecular anisotropy in LCEs and their nanocomposites in the forms of films, fibers, and droplets. Through pre-programming inhomogeneous local deformations in LCEs, we show shape morphing into arbitrary 3D shapes. By incorporating 1D and 2D nanomaterials in LCEs, we demonstrate tendon-like actuators and reprogrammable shape transformation in response to heat, light, magnetic field, and electric field for soft robotics.