Localizing genesis in polydomain liquid crystal elastomers†
Programming the local orientation of liquid crystal elastomers (LCEs) is a differentiated approach to prepare monolithic material compositions with localized deformation. Our prior efforts prepared LCEs with surface-enforced spatial variations in orientation to localize deformation when the LCEs were subjected to directional load. However, because these surface alignment methods included regions of planar orientation, the deformation of these programmed LCEs is inherently directional. The absence of macroscopic orientation in polydomain LCEs results in uniform, nonlinear deformation in all axes (omnidirectional soft elasticity). Here, we exploit the distinct mechanical response of polydomain LCEs prepared with isotropic or nematic genesis. By localizing the polydomain genesis via masked photopolymerizations conducted at different temperatures, we detail the preparation of main-chain, polydomain LCEs that are homogeneous in composition but exhibit spatially localized programmability in their mechanical response that is uniform in all directions.