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Active Textile Fabrics from Weaving Liquid Crystalline Elastomer Filaments

Pedro E. S. Silva, Hueyan Lin, Maija Vaara, Mithila Mohan, Jaana Vapaavuori, Eugene M. Terentjev



Abstract: Active fabrics, responding autonomously to environmental changes, are the “Holy Grail” of the development of smart textiles. Liquid crystal elastomers (LCEs) promise to be the base materials for large-stroke reversible actuation. The mechanical behavior of LCEs matches almost exactly the human muscle. Yet, it has not been possible to produce filaments from LCEs that will be suitable for standard textile production methods, such as weaving. Based on the recent development of LCE fibers, here, the crafting of active fabrics incorporating LCE yarn, woven on a standard loom, giving control over the weave density and structure, is presented. Two types of LCE yarns (soft and stiff) and their incorporation into several weaving patterns are tested, and the “champions” identified: the twill pattern with stiffer LCE yarn that shows the greatest blocking force of 1–2 N cm−1 , and the weft rib pattern with over 10% reversible actuation strain on repeated heating cycles. Reversible 3D shape changes of active fabric utilize the circular weaving patterns that lead to cone shapes upon heating. The seamless combination of active LCE yarns into the rich portfolio of existing passive yarns can be transformative in creating new stimuli-responsive actuating textiles.




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