Sharing of Strain Between Nanofiber Forests and Liquid Crystals Leads to Programmable Responses to Electric Fields
Roh, S./ Kim, J./ Varadharajan, D./ Lahann, J./ Abbott, N. L.
- Date: April 2022
Fibers embedded in soft matrices are widely encountered in biological systems, with the fibers providing mechanical reinforcement or encoding of instructions for shape changes. Here, the mechanical coupling of end-attached polymeric nanofiber forests and liquid crystals (LCs) is explored, where the nanofibers are templated into prescribed shapes by the chemical vapor polymerization of paracyclophane-based monomers in supported films of the LCs. It is shown that the elastic energies of the nanofibers and LCs are comparable in magnitude, leading to reversible straining of nanofibers via the application of an electric field to the LC. This coupling is shown to encode complex electrooptical responses in the LC (e.g., optical vortices), thus illustrating how LC-templated nanofiber forests offer the basis of fresh approaches for programming configurational changes in soft materials.