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Physics Colloquium - Friday, Oct. 31st, 2008, 4:00 P.M.

E300 Math/Science Center; Refreshments at 3:30 P.M. in Room E200

Robin Selinger - Liquid Crystal Institute, Kent State University

Modeling Liquid Crystal Elastomers: Actuators, Pumps, and Robots

Liquid crystal elastomers, sometimes called "artificial muscles," combine the elastic properties of rubber with the molecular order properties of liquid crystals. These soft actuators undergo strains of several hundred percent in response to changes in temperature, illumination, or applied fields. We model the shape-change dynamics of these fascinating materials and explore designs for devices such as peristaltic pumps and self-propelled soft robots. We also present simulation studies of soft elastic response and microstructural evolution under applied strain. The long-term goal of this work is to build a bridge between basic soft matter theory and practical materials engineering/device design. Work supported by the US National Science Foundation DMR-0605889.