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Temperature-Responsive Multistable Metamaterials

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posted on 24.06.2021, 12:38 by Lucia M. Korpas, Rui Yin, Hiromi Yasuda, Jordan R. Raney
The ability for materials to adapt their shape and mechanical properties to the local environment is useful in a variety of applications, from soft robots to deployable structures. In this work, we integrate liquid crystal elastomers (LCEs) with multistable structures to allow autonomous reconfiguration in response to local changes in temperature. LCEs are incorporated in a kirigami-inspired system in which squares are connected at their vertices by small hinges composed of LCE–silicone bilayers. These bend and soften as the temperature increases above room temperature. By choosing geometric parameters for the hinges such that bifurcation points in the stability exist, a transition from mono- or tristability to bistability can be triggered by a sufficient increase in temperature, forcing rearrangements of the structure as minima in the energy landscape are removed. We demonstrate temperature-induced propagation of transition waves, enabling local structural changes to autonomously propagate and affect other parts of the structure. These effects could be harnessed in applications in interface control, reconfigurable structures, and soft robotics.