Topographical changes in photo-responsive liquid crystal films: a computational analysis†
Switchable materials in response to external stimuli serve as building blocks to construct microscale functionalized actuators and sensors. Azobenzene-modified liquid crystal (LC) polymeric networks, that combine liquid crystalline orientational order and elasticity, reversibly undergo conformational changes powered by light. We present a computational framework to describe photo-induced topographical transformations of azobenzene-modified LC glassy polymer coatings. A nonlinear light penetration model is combined with an opto-mechanical constitutive relation to simulate various ordered and corrugated topographical textures resulting from aligned or randomly distributed LC molecule orientations. Our results shed light on the fundamental physical mechanisms of light-triggered surface undulations and can be used as guidelines to optimize surface modulation and roughness in emerging fields that involve haptics interfacing, friction control and wetting manipulation.