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Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2007;46(4):506-28.

Photomechanics of liquid-crystalline elastomers and other polymers.

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Chemical Resources Laboratory, Tokyo Institute of Technology, R1-11, 4259 Nagatsuta, Midori-ku, Yokohama 226-8503, Japan.


Muscle is a transducer that can convert chemical energy into mechanical motion. To construct artificial muscles, it is desirable to use soft materials with high mechanical flexibility and durability rather than hard materials such as metals. For effective muscle-like actuation, materials with stratified structures and high molecular orders are necessary. Liquid-crystalline elastomers (LCEs) are superior soft materials that possess both the order of liquid crystals and the elasticity of elastomers (as they contain polymer networks). With the aid of LCEs, it is possible to convert small amounts of external energy into macroscopic amounts of mechanical energy. In this Review, we focus on light as an energy source and describe the recent progress in the area of soft materials that can convert light energy into mechanical energy directly (photomechanical effect), especially the photomechanical effects of LCEs with a view to applications for light-driven LCE actuators.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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