Liquid crystal (LC) elastomers with bent-core side-groups incorporate the properties of bent-core liquid crystals in a flexible and self-supporting polymer network. Bent-core liquid crystal elastomers (BCEs) with uniform alignment were prepared by attaching a reactive bent-core LC to poly(hydrogenmethylsiloxane) and crosslinking with a divinyl crosslinker. Phase behavior studies indicate a nematic phase over a wide temperature range that approaches room temperature, and thermoelastic measurements show that these BCEs can reversibly change their length by more than a factor of two upon heating and cooling. Small-angle X-ray scattering studies reveal multiple, broad low-angle peaks consistent with short-range smectic C order of the bent-core side groups. A comparison of these patterns with predictions of a Landau model for short-range smectic C order shows that the length scale for smectic ordering in BCEs is similar to that seen in pure bent-core LCs. The combination of rubber elasticity and smectic ordering of the bent-core side groups suggests that BCEs may be promising materials for sensing, actuating, and other advanced applications.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/antal_jakli/37/