14Thermal‐ and Photo‐deformable Liquid Crystal Polymers and Bioinspired Movements

Yuyun Liu, Jiu‐an Lv, and Yanlei Yu*

State Key Laboratory of Molecular Engineering of Polymers, Department of Materials Science, Fudan University, Shanghai, China

14.1 Introduction

Liquid crystals (LCs) are a typical organic material that show cooperative motion among molecules. Polymers are one of the most promising materials, because they have many attractive properties and characteristics, including being lightweight, inexpensive, fracture‐tolerant, and pliable. The combination of LCs and polymers leads to LC polymers (LCPs) with fascinating properties which possess both the order of LCs and the good mechanical properties of polymers [13]. Especially in cross‐linked LCPs (CLCPs), the orientation of the LCs is strongly coupled with the conformation of the polymer main chains. Taking advantage of thermo‐induced change in the LCs’ orientation and their cooperative motion, CLCPs undergo fast contraction above the phase transition temperature and revert to their original size by expanding as the temperature drops below the phase transition temperature [47]. Furthermore, light‐responsive CLCPs performing such movements as contraction, bending, and twisting have also been obtained [810]. What is more, with the assistance of inspirational designs and advanced nanotechnologies, thermo‐ and photo‐deformable CLCPs can potentially be used to mimic several features of living creatures based on the principles ...

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