J. Phys. II France
Volume 1, Number 10, October 1991
Page(s) 1253 - 1261
DOI: 10.1051/jp2:1991131
J. Phys. II France 1 (1991) 1253-1261

Memory effects in liquid crystal elastomers

C. H. Legge, F. J. Davis and G. R. Mitchell

Polymer Science Centre, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading RG6 2AF, U.K.

(Received 8 May 1991, accepted in final form 18 June 1991)

Free-standing monodomain liquid crystal elastomer samples are shown to have a complete memory of the orientational configuration at the time of cross-linking. This memory is demonstrated through samples in which the parent polymer system is first aligned in a magnetic field prior to cross-linking. These films show reversible nematic-isotropic phase transitions and x-ray scattering patterns characteristic of nematic phases. The liquid crystal elastomer films exhibit a remarkable memory effect, in that the sample may be held at temperatures well above the nematic-isotropic transition for extended periods ( > 2 weeks), but on cooling into the liquid crystal phase region, both the original director alignment and the degree of preferred orientation are recovered. It is demonstrated that these novel memory effects are equilibrium in nature. The origins of this phenomena in terms of coupling between the mesogenic side-chains and the polymer network are discussed.

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