Responsive, 3d Electronics Enabled by Liquid Crystal Elastomer Substrates


Traditional electronic devices are rigid, planar, and mechanically static. The combination of traditional electronic materials and responsive polymer substrates is of significant interest to provide opportunities to replace conventional electronic devices with stretchable, 3D, and responsive electronics. Liquid crystal elastomers (LCEs) are well suited to function as such dynamic substrates because of their large strain, reversible stimulus response that can be controlled through directed self-assembly of molecular order. Here, we discuss using LCEs as substrates for electronic devices that are flat during processing but then morph into controlled 3D structures. We design and demonstrate processes for a variety of electronic devices on LCEs including deformation-tolerant conducting traces and capacitors and cold temperature-responsive antennas. For example, patterning twisted nematic orientation within the substrate can be used to create helical electronic devices that stretch up to 100% with less than 2% change in resistance or capacitance. Moreover, we discuss self-morphing LCE antennas which can dynamically change the operating frequency from 2.7 GHz (room temperature) to 3.3 GHz (-65 °C). We envision applications for these 3D, responsive devices in wearable or implantable electronics and in cold-chain monitoring radio frequency identification sensors. ©2019 American Chemical Society.


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Antennas (Electronics), Capacitors, Flexible electronics, Liquid crystal elastomers, Elastomers, Microwave antennas, Nematic liquid crystals, Plastics, Radio frequency identification systems

National Science Foundation under grant nos. 1711383, NSF ECCS 1711467 and NSF EFRI 1332348; Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under contract no. 140D6318C0097.


©2019 American Chemical Society