Europhys. Lett.
Volume 64, Number 5, December 2003
Page(s) 654 - 660
Section Condensed matter: structure, mechanical and thermal properties
Published online 01 November 2003
DOI: 10.1209/epl/i2003-00277-9
Europhys. Lett., 64 (5) , pp. 654-660 (2003)

Nematic elastomers with aligned carbon nanotubes: New electromechanical actuators

S. Courty, J. Mine, A. R. Tajbakhsh and E. M. Terentjev

Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge - Cambridge CB3 0HE, UK

(Received 10 September 2003; accepted in final form 20 October 2003)

We demonstrate, for the first time, the large electromechanical response in nematic liquid-crystalline elastomers filled with a very low ( $\sim 0.01\%$) concentration of carbon nanotubes, aligned along the nematic director at preparation. The nanotubes create a very large effective dielectric anisotropy of the composite. Their local field-induced torque is transmitted to the rubber elastic network and is registered as the exerted uniaxial stress of order $\sim 1$ kPa in response to a constant field of order $\sim 1$ MV/m. We investigate the dependence of the effect on field strength, nanotube concentration and reproducibility under multiple field-on and -off cycles. The results indicate the potential of the nanotube-nematic elastomer composites as electrically driven actuators.

61.30.-v - Liquid crystals.
61.41.+e - Polymers, elastomers, and plastics.
85.35.Kt - Nanotube devices.

© EDP Sciences 2003