Smectic liquid crystalline elastomers (SLCE) represent unique materials that combine a 1-D molecular lattice arrangement and orientational order with rubber-elasticity mediated by a polymer network. Such materials may exhibit large thermo-mechanical, opto-mechanical and electro-mechanical effects, due to the coupling of macroscopic sample geometry and microscopic structural features. It is shown that the molecular layer dimensions in the smectic phases can be influenced reversibly by macroscopic strain of the material. We present a microscopic model on the basis of experimental results obtained by mechanical dilatation measurements, optical interferometry, X-ray scattering, 13C NMR, FTIR and polarizing microscopy data. The model gives an explanation of the controversial results obtained in different types of smectic elastomers.
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