5 years ago

Tunable Photocontrolled Motions Using Stored Strain Energy in Malleable Azobenzene Liquid Crystalline Polymer Actuators

Tunable Photocontrolled Motions Using Stored Strain Energy in Malleable Azobenzene Liquid Crystalline Polymer Actuators
Xia Tong, Shengwei Guo, Hesheng Xia, Yue Zhao, Xili Lu
A new strategy for enhancing the photoinduced mechanical force is demonstrated using a reprocessable azobenzene-containing liquid crystalline network (LCN). The basic idea is to store mechanical strain energy in the polymer beforehand so that UV light can then be used to generate a mechanical force not only from the direct light to mechanical energy conversion upon the trans–cis photoisomerization of azobenzene mesogens but also from the light-triggered release of the prestored strain energy. It is shown that the two mechanisms can add up to result in unprecedented photoindued mechanical force. Together with the malleability of the polymer stemming from the use of dynamic covalent bonds for chain crosslinking, large-size polymer photoactuators in the form of wheels or spring-like “motors” can be constructed, and, by adjusting the amount of prestored strain energy in the polymer, a variety of robust, light-driven motions with tunable rolling or moving direction and speed can be achieved. The approach of prestoring a controllable amount of strain energy to obtain a strong and tunable photoinduced mechanical force in azobenzene LCN can be further explored for applications of light-driven polymer actuators. By prestoring mechanical strain energy in a reprocessable liquid crystal polymer network containing azobenzene mesogens, unprecedented mechanical force can be generated under UV light irradiation, which enables continuous light-driven motions of large polymer actuators in the form of wheels and spring-like “motors,” with tunable moving speed and controllable moving direction.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1002/adma.201606467

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