reversible actuation of origami inspired composites using liquid crystal elastomers

Department: Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
Research Institute Affiliation: Contextual Robotics Institute
Faculty Advisor(s): Michael T. Tolley | Shengqiang Cai | Michael Tolley

Primary Student
Name: Adriane Fernandes Minori
Phone: 858-534-1355
Grad Year: 2020

Recent work has used shape memory polymers (SMPs) in self-folding origami-inspired composites to produce complex, scalable, affordable, and lightweight morphing structures [1]. These characteristics are of interest for engineering applications, in fields including aerospace and medical devices. However, despite being easily patterned and commercially available as sheets, commonly used SMPs for self-folding, such as polystyrene and polyolefin, are unable to recover their original state without the aid of an external force used to train the polymer's shape, once the applied stimulus ceases. This feature limits the applicability of these SMPs to generate self-folding and self-contained morphing structures. Alternatively, liquid crystal elastomers (LCEs) are polymers able to reverse its shape once a stimulus ceases without any retraining required. In this work, we explore the use of thermal responsive liquid crystal elastomers for reversible self-folding and actuation of smart composite hinges as well as an inch-worm crawler using laminate manufacturing [2]. Our results demonstrate the possibility of using LCE to achieve rapid, reversible folding and to generate similar torques, as compared to previous work in origami-inspired self-folding composites. [1] Felton, S., Tolley, M., Demaine, E., Rus, D., and Wood,R., 2014. "A method for building self-folding machines".Science, 345(6197), pp. 644-646. [2] Minori, A., et al. "Reversible Actuation of Origami Inspired Composites Using Liquid Crystal Elastomers." ASME 2017 Conference on Smart Materials, Adaptive Structures and Intelligent Systems. American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 2017.

Industry Application Area(s)
Aerospace, Defense, Security | Materials | Manufacturing and Design

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