Liquid Crystal Elastomers with Piezoelectric Properties
During the last few years, liquid crystalline elastomers (LCEs) have been systematically produced by cross-linking liquid crystalline side-chain polymers. In these networks, a liquid crystalline molecule is fixed at each monomeric unit. LCEs exhibit a novel combination of properties. Due to liquid crystalline groups, they show anisotropic liquid crystalline properties similar to conventional liquid crystals (LCs); but due to the three-dimensional network-structure of the polymer chains, they show typical elastomer properties, such as rubber elasticity or shape stability. One exceptional property of this combination is demonstrated when a mechanical deformation to the LCE causes macroscopically uniform orientation of the long molecular axis of the LC units (the so-called "director").