Soft Multifunctional Composite with Liquid Crystal Elastomer

In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, we report on a novel class of soft multifunctional composite materials made with liquid crystal elastomer (LCE). LCE is embedded with microdroplets of liquid metal (LCE), which improves thermal conductivity and can make the material electrically conductive.

We show that the LCE-LM can be programmed to reversibly deform into complex shapes when activated with heat or electricity. We also show that it can function like a soft “artificial muscle” actuator that can be electrically operated and sustain mechanical damage without failing.

This work was done in collaboration with Taylor Ware at UT Dallas and Jon Malen in Carnegie Mellon’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.

For more details, check out the full article in PNAS.