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Issue 43, 2017
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Coupled swelling and nematic reordering in liquid crystal gels

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Abstract

We derive a multiphysics model that accounts for network elasticity with spontaneous strains, swelling and nematic interactions in liquid crystal gels (LCGs). We discuss the coupling among the various physical mechanisms, with particular reference to the effects of nematic interactions on chemical equilibrium and that of swelling on the nematic–isotropic transition. Building upon this discussion and using numerical simulations, we explore the transient phenomena involving concurrent swelling and phase transition in LCGs subject to a temperature change. Specifically, we demonstrate separation in time scales between solvent uptake and phase change, in agreement with experiments, which determines a kinetic decoupling between shape and volume changes. Finally, we discuss possible applications in the context of microswimmers, where such a kinetic decoupling is exploited to achieve non-reciprocal actuation and net motion in Stokes flow.

Graphical abstract: Coupled swelling and nematic reordering in liquid crystal gels

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Publication details

The article was received on 18 Aug 2017, accepted on 30 Sep 2017 and first published on 04 Oct 2017


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7SM01659J
Citation: Soft Matter, 2017,13, 7907-7915
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    Coupled swelling and nematic reordering in liquid crystal gels

    A. Lucantonio and A. DeSimone, Soft Matter, 2017, 13, 7907
    DOI: 10.1039/C7SM01659J

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