Liquid crystal elastomer coatings with programmed
response of surface proﬁle
, Taras Turiv
, Yubing Guo
, Matthew Hendrikx
, Qi-Huo Wei
Albert P.H.J. Schenning
, Dirk J. Broer
& Oleg D. Lavrentovich
Stimuli-responsive liquid crystal elastomers with molecular orientation coupled to rubber-like
elasticity show a great potential as elements in soft robotics, sensing, and transport systems.
The orientational order deﬁnes their mechanical response to external stimuli, such as ther-
mally activated muscle-like contraction. Here we demonstrate a dynamic thermal control of
the surface topography of an elastomer prepared as a coating with a pattern of in-plane
molecular orientation. The inscribed pattern determines whether the coating develops ele-
vations, depressions, or in-plane deformations when the temperature changes. The deter-
ministic dependence of the out-of-plane dynamic proﬁle on the in-plane orientation is
explained by activation forces. These forces are caused by stretching-contraction of the
polymer networks and by spatially varying molecular orientation. The activation force concept
brings the responsive liquid crystal elastomers into the domain of active matter. The
demonstrated relationship can be used to design coatings with functionalities that mimic
biological tissues such as skin.
Corrected: Author correction
Liquid Crystal Institute, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242, USA.
Chemical Physics Interdisciplinary Program, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242,
Functional Organic Materials and Devices, Department of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry, Eindhoven University of Technology, 5612 AZAE
Eindhoven, The Netherlands.
Institute for Complex Molecular Systems, Eindhoven University of Technology, P.O. Box 513, 5600 MB Eindhoven, The
Department of Physics, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242, USA. Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to
O.D.L. (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)