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Making and Remaking Dynamic 3D Structures by Shining Light on Flat Liquid Crystalline Vitrimer Films without a Mold

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posted on 03.02.2016, 00:00 by Yang Yang, Zhiqiang Pei, Zhen Li, Yen Wei, Yan Ji
Making dynamic three-dimensional (3D) structures capable of reversible shape changes or locomotion purely out of dry polymers is very difficult. Meanwhile, no previous dynamic 3D structures can be remade into new configurations while being resilient to mechanical damages and low temperature. Here, we show that light-activated transesterification in carbon nanotube dispersed liquid crystalline vitrimers enables flexible design and easy building of dynamic 3D structures out of flat films upon irradiation of light without screws, glues, or molds. Shining light also enables dynamic 3D structures to be quickly modified on demand, restored from distortion, repaired if broken, in situ healed when microcrack appears, assembled for more sophisticated structures, reconfigured, and recycled after use. Furthermore, the fabrication, reconfiguration, actuation, reparation, and assembly as well as healing can be performed even at extremely low temperatures (e.g., −130 °C).