Co-flow microfluidic synthesis of liquid crystalline actuating Janus particles†
In this article the microfluidic synthesis and characterization of micrometer sized actuating Janus particles containing a liquid crystalline elastomer (LCE) is presented. On one side these Janus particles consist of a hydrophobic liquid crystalline part, featuring strong shape changes during the thermotropic phase transition, whereas the other side contains a hydrophilic polyacrylamide network. The synthesis is based upon the dispersion of two immiscible monomer mixtures in a continuously flowing silicone oil, using two glass capillaries side by side to form Janus microdroplets of different morphologies. Furthermore, the systematic adjustment of the morphology of the Janus particles as well as the optimization of the actuation properties is conducted by precise control and variation of the microfluidic parameters. The actuation properties of the particles are studied by polarized optical microscopy (POM), in which relative length changes up to 52% are investigated for the elongation of LCEs during the phase transition in rod-like Janus particles. Further wide-angle X-ray scattering (WAXS) measurements verify the mesogen's orientation in a bipolar director field, which corresponds to the observed geometry of the Janus particle's shape changes.