WHAT IS IT?
If you plop these thin wafers, made up of several layers of a stretchy material called 'liquid crystal elastomers,' onto a hot plate, they will begin to warp. Then, suddenly and explosively, they leap into the air.
Opportunities for using polymer materials in new ways for applications like soft robotics where we often need access to these high-speed, high-force actuation mechanisms. The new research takes advantage of the unusual behavior of a class of materials called liquid crystal elastomers. These materials are solid and stretchy polymer versions of the liquid crystals found in laptops or TV displays.