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NIR–Vis–UV Light-Responsive Actuator Films of Polymer-Dispersed Liquid Crystal/Graphene Oxide Nanocomposites

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posted on 2015-12-16, 00:00 authored by Zhangxiang Cheng, Tianjie Wang, Xiao Li, Yihe Zhang, Haifeng Yu
To take full advantage of sunlight for photomechanical materials, NIR–vis–UV light-responsive actuator films of polymer-dispersed liquid crystal (PDLC)/graphene oxide (GO) nanocomposites were fabricated. The strategy is based on phase transition of LCs from nematic to isotropic phase induced by combination of photochemical and photothermal processes in the PDLC/GO nanocomposites. Upon mechanical stretching of the film, both topological shape change and mesogenic alignment occurred in the separated LC domains, enabling the film to respond to NIR–vis–UV light. The homodispersed GO flakes act as photoabsorbent and nanoscale heat source to transfer NIR or VIS light into thermal energy, heating the film and photothermally inducing phase transition of LC microdomains. By utilizing photochemical phase transition of LCs upon UV-light irradiation, one azobenzene dye was incorporated into the LC domains, endowing the nanocomposite films with UV-responsive property. Moreover, the light-responsive behaviors can be well-controlled by adjusting the elongation ratio upon mechanical treatment. The NIR–vis–UV light-responsive PDLC/GO nanocomposite films exhibit excellent properties of easy fabrication, low-cost, and good film-forming and mechanical features, promising their numerous applications in the field of soft actuators and optomechanical systems driven directly by sunlight.