Morphing of stiffness-heterogeneous liquid crystal elastomers via mechanical training and locally controlled photopolymerization

Yi Li, Gina Parlato, Francis K. Masese, Rajeswari M. Kasi, Teng Zhang, Xueju Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The large, reversible shape-changing behaviors of liquid crystal elastomers (LCEs), resulting from liquid crystal-polymer network couplings, are promising for many applications. Despite intensive studies, harnessing molecular-material-structure interactions of LCEs for the design of locally controlled shape-morphing structures remains a challenge. Here, we report a facile and versatile strategy to tailor the stiffness and the morphing behavior of reconfigurable LCE structures via locally controlled mesogen alignment and crosslinking densities. Selective photopolymerization of spatially aligned LCE structures yields well-controlled lightly and highly crosslinked domains of distinct stiffness and selective permanent mesogen programming, which enables various previously inaccessible stiffness-heterogeneous geometries, as demonstrated in diverse morphing LCE structures via integrated experimental and finite element analysis. Furthermore, programming of the non-photopolymerized regions allows for reshaping, as shown in a sequentially shape-morphing LCE rod and “face”. The heterogenous morphing LCE structures have the potential for many applications, including in artificial muscles, soft robotics, and many others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4332-4346
Number of pages15
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 7 2022


  • Heterogeneous stiffness
  • MAP4: Demonstrate
  • liquid crystal elastomers
  • mechanical training
  • molecular-material-structure interactions
  • sequential programming
  • shape morphing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science


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