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Materials 2018, 11(3), 393;

Electrospun Composite Liquid Crystal Elastomer Fibers

Physics and Materials Science Research Unit, University of Luxembourg, 162 A Avenue de la Faïencerie, 1511 Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 January 2018 / Revised: 25 February 2018 / Accepted: 4 March 2018 / Published: 7 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Liquid Crystal-Assisted Advanced Functional Materials)
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We present a robust method to prepare thin oriented nematic liquid crystalline elastomer-polymer (LCE-polymer) core-sheath fibers. An electrospinning setup is utilized to spin a single solution of photo-crosslinkable low molecular weight reactive mesogens and a support polymer to form the coaxial LCE-polymer fibers, where the support polymer forms the sheath via in situ phase separation as the solvent evaporates. We discuss the effect of phase separation and compare two different sheath polymers (polyvinylpyrrolidone and polylactic acid), investigating optical and morphological properties of obtained fibers, as well as the shape changes upon heating. The current fibers show only irreversible contraction, the relaxation most likely being hindered by the presence of the passive sheath polymer, increasing in stiffness on cooling. If the sheath polymer can be removed while keeping the LCE core intact, we expect LCE fibers produced in this way to have potential to be used as actuators, for instance in soft robotics and responsive textiles. View Full-Text
Keywords: liquid crystal elastomers; electrospinning; fibers; nematic; core-sheath; actuators; polyvinylpyrrolidone; polylactic acid liquid crystal elastomers; electrospinning; fibers; nematic; core-sheath; actuators; polyvinylpyrrolidone; polylactic acid

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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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Sharma, A.; Lagerwall, J.P.F. Electrospun Composite Liquid Crystal Elastomer Fibers. Materials 2018, 11, 393.

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