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Liquid Crystal/Polymer Composites as Novel Responsive Motifs (invited presentation)

K. Lee, M. McConney, L.V. Natarajan, V. Tondiglia, T.J. White, T.J. Bunning
Wright-Patterson AFB, US

Keywords: liquid crystal, polymer composites


Due to their fluid nature, the naturally occurring propensity of liquid crystals (LC) to exhibit ordered structures can be controlled with a variety of stimuli including heat, light, shear, electricity, and magnetism. Introducing polymeric structures into these systems enables nanocomposite structures whose responsiveness can be mitigated by surface elasticity and area. We discuss two different systems, one polymer-rich and one polymer-poor. For the former, the covalent introduction of LC molecules onto polymer backbones enables photoresponsive thin films whose behavior can be controlled by size and shape of the film, the molecular constituents, and the relative orientation behavior of the LC domains within and across the film thickness. For the polymer-poor case, introduction of a templated polymer network structure which is formed by the anisotropic photopolymerization across the cell thickness enables novel thermal and light responsive behavior. For both cases, control of the nanoscale architecture and the interrelationships between the LC and polymer constituents are key to improving performance.
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