Water crystal elastomer research paves the way for new applications and functional materials

Credit: University of Cambridge

A new e-book discusses advances in crystal elastomer (LCE) technology achieved with the support of an APRA project. Written by polymer physics professor Eugene M. Terentjev of the APRA project at the University of Cambridge, the e-book sheds light on these smart plastics and clearly how LCEs bring automation into the of property.

What exactly are LCEs?

LCEs are networks of polymers that show a dynamic change in shape under different influences. The e-book describes them as “a new class of devices with physical intelligence.” It goes on to say, “These are plastics that feel and respond to their environment, make decisions, analyze and diagnose problems without human intervention. Water-based crystalline elastomers are truly materials of the future.”

The multifunctional polymer material developed under the APRA project is reusable and recyclable. One unique property of LCE described in the e-book is soft elasticity, which “combines the properties of liquid dispersion and thermoset mechanical strength to produce vibrational conditions that exceed leading technologies. in the market based on polyurethane or silicone.”

LCEs also have strong pressure-sensitive adhesives (PSA), sticking to the touch and bonding in many places. Through APRA, the University of Cambridge is working with Cambridge Smart Plastics technology to develop a new concept that uses self-adhesive LCEs, described as “as simple as a hand holding us [sic] continue to be sought.” They have developed a naturally adhesive rubber whose properties change when heated, making it easier to separate. When it cools, the rubber re-sticks, making “this glue can recycled” second life.

Another remarkable property is the ability of LCEs to contract renewable and expand heating and cooling. “If the material is arranged in a given shape when it is aligned, then this will change to its natural shape. However, heating the material will cause it to contract by 100-200%, which can change with complete (LCE returns to its original shape when cooled).This mechanical process allows us to design actuators, artificial muscles, or LCE motors that deal with the temperature difference between the two containers. ”

Recent breakthroughs by researchers have helped them overcome long-standing barriers to using LCE actuation in practical devices. This breakthrough led to the development of LCE vitrimers. “Vitrimers are more stable than other temporary elastomer networks, but still allow thermal reshaping (making the material completely regenerated). This makes it possible to create complex shapes which have a complex arrangement of surfaces (not possible in conventional permanent elastomers).according to the e-book.

These structures pave the way for many LCE applications: isolation devices, materials that reduce road vibrations to improve visibility and accuracy and passenger comfort, fully adjustable adhesive tapes that ” eliminating the “single use” of today’s adhesives. ,” Heliotracking solar panels and engines that turn waste heat into useful work. The 5-year APRA (Active Polymers for Renewable Functional Actuators) project ends in September 2023.

Excerpt: Crystal elastomer research paves way for new applications and functional materials (2023, March 1) Retrieved March 1, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-02- liquid-crystal-elastomer-paving-applications html

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