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Polymers 2018, 10(7), 773; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym10070773

Nanostructured Composites Based on Liquid-Crystalline Elastomers

1
Dipartimento di Chimica e Chimica Industriale, Università di Pisa, via Moruzzi 13, 56124 Pisa, Italy
2
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139-4307, USA
3
Department of Condensed Matter Physics, Jozef Stefan Institute, Jamova Cesta 39, SI 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 18 June 2018 / Revised: 9 July 2018 / Accepted: 10 July 2018 / Published: 14 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Liquid Crystalline Polymers)

Abstract

Liquid-crystalline elastomers (LCEs) are the object of many research investigations due to their reversible and controllable shape deformations, and their high potential for use in the field of soft robots and artificial muscles. This review focuses on recent studies about polymer composites based on LCEs and nanomaterials having different chemistry and morphology, with the aim of instilling new physical properties into LCEs. The synthesis, physico-chemical characterization, actuation properties, and applications of LCE-based composites reported in the literature are reviewed. Several cases are discussed: (1) the addition of various carbon nanomaterials to LCEs, from carbon black to carbon nanotubes, to the recent attempts to include graphene layers to enhance the thermo-mechanic properties of LCEs; (2) the use of various types of nanoparticles, such as ferroelectric ceramics, gold nanoparticles, conductive molybdenum-oxide nanowires, and magnetic iron-oxide nanoparticles, to induce electro-actuation, magnetic-actuation, or photo-actuation into the LCE-based composites; (3) the deposition on LCE surfaces of thin layers of conductive materials (i.e., conductive polymers and gold nanolayers) to produce bending actuation by applying on/off voltage cycles or surface-wrinkling phenomena in view of tunable optical applications. Some future perspectives of this field of soft materials conclude the review. View Full-Text
Keywords: liquid-crystal polymers; bilayers; composites; liquid single-crystal elastomers; actuators; artificial muscles; orientational order; NMR; nanoparticles; nanomaterials; photo-actuation; electro-actuation; thermal actuation liquid-crystal polymers; bilayers; composites; liquid single-crystal elastomers; actuators; artificial muscles; orientational order; NMR; nanoparticles; nanomaterials; photo-actuation; electro-actuation; thermal actuation
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Cresta, V.; Romano, G.; Kolpak, A.; Zalar, B.; Domenici, V. Nanostructured Composites Based on Liquid-Crystalline Elastomers. Polymers 2018, 10, 773.

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