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See detailEmbedding Intelligence in Materials for Responsive Built Environment using Liquid Crystal Elastomer Actuators and Sensors
Schwartz, Mathew; Lagerwall, Jan UL

E-print/Working paper (2021)

Liquid Crystal Elastomers (LCEs) are an exciting category of material that has tremendous application potential across a variety of fields, owing to their unique properties that enable both sensing and ... [more ▼]

Liquid Crystal Elastomers (LCEs) are an exciting category of material that has tremendous application potential across a variety of fields, owing to their unique properties that enable both sensing and actuation. To some, LCEs are simply another type of Shape Memory Polymer, while to others they are an interesting on-going scientific experiment. In this visionary article, we bring an interdisciplinary discussion around creative and impactful ways that LCEs can be applied in the Built Environment to support kinematic and kinetic buildings and situational awareness. We focus particularly on the autonomy made possible by using LCEs, potentially removing needs for motors, wiring and tubing, and even enabling fully independent operation in response to natural environment variations, requiring no power sources. To illustrate the potential, we propose a number of concrete application scenarios where LCEs could offer innovative solutions to problems of great societal importance, such as autonomous active ventilation, heliotropic solar panels systems which can also remove snow or sand autonomously, and invisible coatings with strain mapping functionality, alerting residents in case of dangerous (static or dynamic) loads on roofs or windows, as well as assisting building safety inspection teams after earthquakes. [less ▲]

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See detailCholesteric Liquid Crystal Shells as Enabling Material for Information-Rich Design and Architecture.
Schwartz, Mathew; Lenzini, Gabriele UL; Geng, Yong UL et al

in Advanced Materials (2018)

The responsive and dynamic character of liquid crystals (LCs), arising from their ability to self-organize into long-range ordered structures while maintaining fluidity, has given them a role as key ... [more ▼]

The responsive and dynamic character of liquid crystals (LCs), arising from their ability to self-organize into long-range ordered structures while maintaining fluidity, has given them a role as key enabling materials in the information technology that surrounds us today. Ongoing research hints at future LC-based technologies of entirely different types, for instance by taking advantage of the peculiar behavior of cholesteric liquid crystals (CLCs) subject to curvature. Spherical shells of CLC reflect light omnidirectionally with specific polarization and wavelength, tunable from the UV to the infrared (IR) range, with complex patterns arising when many of them are brought together. Here, these properties are analyzed and explained, and future application opportunities from an inter- disciplinary standpoint are discussed. By incorporating arrangements of CLC shells in smart facades or vehicle coatings, or in objects of high value subject to counterfeiting, game-changing future uses might arise in fields spanning infor- mation security, design, and architecture. The focus here is on the challenges of a digitized and information-rich future society where humans increasingly rely on technology and share their space with autonomous vehicles, drones, and robots. [less ▲]

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