Numerical analysis and design of a light-driven liquid crystal polymer-based motorless miniature cart†
Liquid crystal polymers are a special class of soft materials that can change their shape in response to numerous stimuli such as light, heat, electric field, and chemicals. The ability to tailor the deformed shape by tuning the alignment of mesogens across the film has enabled the researchers to generate unique motions from these liquid crystal polymer thin films. Simulating such motions might allow us to understand the underlying mechanisms better and could lead to novel designs. In this paper, we analyze the kinematics of the light-driven rolling motion of wheels fabricated with azobenzene-doped glassy liquid crystal networks through a one-way coupled transient photo-mechanical model. The influence of the isomerization parameters and the alignment of mesogens through the thickness on the kinematics of the wheel is presented. The developed model is further used to assess the feasibility of a light-actuated four-wheeled cart with wheels made of azobenzene-doped liquid crystal network thin films.