American Chemical Society
am2c21888_si_002.mp4 (12.09 MB)

Ultrasonic-Excited Ultrafast Seamless Integration of Heterostructured Liquid Crystalline Elastomers for Multi-responsive Soft Actuators

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posted on 2023-03-01, 21:35 authored by Xiaoxiong Zheng, Qiuchen Ma, Yuan Tao, Yan Huang, Mingyu Li, Hongjun Ji
Multicomponent/heterostructured liquid crystalline elastomers (LCEs) have recently garnered extensive attention for the design of soft robots with high dexterity and flexibility. However, the reported integration strategies of LCEs seriously suffer from high welding temperature, long processing time, and poor joint quality. Herein, the high-efficiency seamless ultrasonic welding (UW) of reprogrammable silver nanowire–LCE composites (AgNW–LCEs) have been realized without any auxiliary reagents based on the dynamic silver–disulfide coordination interactions. The elaborate combination of silver–disulfide coordination interactions and UW technology establishes an effective double-network welding mechanism of AgNWs and dynamic LC networks due to the high-frequency vibration at the welding interface. During the UW process, monolithic AgNW–LCEs can be integrated into heterostructured actuators at room temperature for 0.68 s. Furthermore, the welded AgNW–LCEs demonstrate an exceptional strain healing efficiency of ∼100%, a stress healing efficiency of ∼85%, and a maintained orientation of the LC alignment. Taking advantage of the high-efficiency UW technology, the heterostructured AgNW–LCE actuators with different LC alignments or LC monomers have been successfully implemented for a multi-degree-of-freedom soft robotic arm and a time-modulated flower-mimic actuator. This work provides an efficient approach toward the development of multi-responsive entirely soft actuators based on smart polymers.