Soft materials with programmability have been widely used in drug delivery, tissue engineering, artificial muscles, biosensors, and related biomedical engineering applications. Liquid crystal elastomers (LCEs) can easily morph into three-dimensional (3D) shapes by external stimuli such as light, heat, and humidity. In order to program two-dimensional (2D) LCE sheets into desired 3D morphologies, it is critical to precisely control the molecular orientations in LCE. In this work, we propose a simple photopatterning method based on a maskless projection display system to create spatially varying molecular orientations in LCE films. By designing different synchronized rotations of the polarizer and projected images, diverse configurations ranging from individual to 2D lattice of topological defects are fabricated. The proposed technique significantly simplified the photopatterning procedure without using fabricated masks or waveplates. Shape transformations such as a cone and a truncated square pyramid, and functionality mimicking the responsive Mimosa Pudica
are demonstrated in the fabricated LCE films. The programmable LCE morphing behaviors demonstrated in this work will open opportunities in soft robotics and smart functional devices.
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