Embedding intelligence in materials for responsive built environment: A topical review on Liquid Crystal Elastomer actuators and sensors

Mathew Schwartz, Jan P.F. Lagerwall

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Liquid Crystal Elastomers (LCEs) are an exciting category of material that has tremendous application potential across a variety of fields, owing to their unique properties that enable both sensing and actuation. To some, LCEs are simply another type of Shape Memory Polymer, while to others they are an interesting on-going scientific experiment. In this visionary article, we bring an interdisciplinary discussion around creative and impactful ways that LCEs can be applied in the Built Environment to support kinematic and kinetic buildings and situational awareness. We focus particularly on the autonomy made possible by using LCEs, potentially removing needs for motors, wiring and tubing, and even enabling fully independent operation in response to natural environment variations, requiring no power sources. To illustrate the potential, we propose a number of concrete application scenarios where LCEs could offer innovative solutions to problems of great societal importance, such as autonomous active ventilation, heliotropic solar panel systems which can also remove snow or sand autonomously, and invisible coatings with strain mapping functionality, alerting residents in case of dangerous (static or dynamic) loads on roofs or windows, as well as assisting building safety inspection teams after earthquakes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109714
JournalBuilding and Environment
Volume226
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Building and Construction

Keywords

  • Cholesteric structural color
  • Embedded control
  • Kinetic buildings
  • Liquid Crystal Elastomers
  • Responsive materials
  • Shape memory polymers
  • Situational awareness
  • Soft actuation

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