Elastic sheath–liquid crystal core fibres achieved by microfluidic wet spinning†
While coaxial polymer sheath–liquid crystal core fibres attract interest for fundamental research as well as applied reasons, the main method for achieving them so far, electrospinning, is complex and has significant limitations. It has proven particularly challenging to spin fibres with an elastic sheath. As an alternative approach, we present a microfluidic wet spinning process that allows us to produce liquid crystal core–polyisoprene rubber sheath fibres on a laboratory scale. The fibres can be stretched by up to 300% with intact core–sheath geometry. We spin fibres with nematic as well as with cholesteric liquid crystal in the core, the latter turning the composite fibre into an elastic cylindrical photonic crystal. Iridescent colours are easily observable by the naked eye. As this coaxial wet spinning should be amenable to upscaling, this could allow large-scale production of innovative functional fibres, attractive through the various responsive characteristics of different liquid crystal phases being incorporated into an elastic textile fiber form factor.