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Photo Actuation Performance of Nanotube Sheet Incorporated Azobenzene Crosslinked Liquid Crystalline Polymer Nanocomposite

1
Key Laboratory of Functional Inorganic Material Chemistry, Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China, Heilongjiang University, Harbin 15008, China
2
Key Laboratory of Cosmetic, Beijing Technology and Business University, Beijing 100048, China
3
Department of Applied Science, Harbin University of Science and Technology, Harbin 150080, China
4
Key Laboratory of Chemical Engineering Process and Technology for High-Efficiency Conversion, School of Chemistry and Material Sciences, Heilongjiang University, Harbin 150080, China
5
Key Laboratory of Electronics Engineering, College of Heilongjiang Province, Heilongjiang University, Harbin 150080, China
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Polymers 2019, 11(4), 735; https://doi.org/10.3390/polym11040735
Received: 9 January 2019 / Revised: 29 March 2019 / Accepted: 2 April 2019 / Published: 23 April 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polymer-CNT Nanocomposites)
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Abstract

Crosslinked liquid crystalline polymers (CLCPs) containing azobenzene (AZO-CLCPs) are a type of promising material due to their significance in the design of light-driven smart actuators. Developing AZO-CLCP composites by incorporating AZO-CLCPs with other materials is an effective way of enhancing their practicability. Herein, we report an AZO-CLCP/CNT nanocomposite prepared by the in situ polymerization of diacrylates containing azobenzene chromophores on carbon nanotube (CNT) sheets. The liquid crystal phase structure of CLCP matrix was evidenced by the two-dimensional X-ray scattering. The prepared pure AZO-CLCP films and AZO-CLCP/CNT nanocomposite films demonstrated strong reversible photo-triggered deformation under the irradiation of UV light at 366 nm of wavelength, as a result of photo-induced isomerization of azobenzene moieties in the polymer network. But compared to pure AZO-CLCP films, the AZO-CLCP/CNT nanocomposite films could much more rapidly return to their initial shapes after the UV light irradiation was removed due to the elasticity effect of CNT sheets. The deformation behavior of AZO-CLCP/CNT nanocomposite films under the light irradiation was also different from that of the pure AZO-CLCP films due to the interfacial interaction between a polymer network and CNT sheet. Furthermore, incorporation of a CNT sheet remarkably increased the mechanical strength and robustness of the material. We also used this AZO-CLCP/CNT nanocomposite as a microvalve membrane actuator, which can be controlled by light, for a conceptual device of a microfluidic system. The results showed that this AZO-CLCP/CNT nanocomposite may have great potential in smart actuator applications for biological engineering, medical treatment, environment detection and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), etc. View Full-Text
Keywords: crosslinked liquid crystalline polymer; azobenzene; carbon nanotube; nanocomposite; smart actuator; photo-induced deformation crosslinked liquid crystalline polymer; azobenzene; carbon nanotube; nanocomposite; smart actuator; photo-induced deformation
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Bi, M.; He, Y.; Wang, Y.; Yang, W.; Qin, B.; Xu, J.; Wang, X.; Wang, B.; Dong, Y.; Gao, Y.; Li, C. Photo Actuation Performance of Nanotube Sheet Incorporated Azobenzene Crosslinked Liquid Crystalline Polymer Nanocomposite. Polymers 2019, 11, 735.

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