// PI: Jan Lagerwall //
Actuators, or artificial muscles, that are soft, that can take on arbitrary shapes and perform complex types of motion, have great potential for applications across a range of fields, from soft robotics to biotechnology, to dynamic architecture and responsive design. However, the options for developing such soft actuators are still severely limited, many designs having limitations in terms of autonomy, a relatively large minimum size (centimeter scale), and in terms of the accessible shapes and actuation modes. A materials class that potentially does not suffer from these limitations is liquid crystal elastomers (LCEs), but they have only recently started to be explored in this context, leaving numerous challenges open. In this project we wish to produce tube-shaped LCE actuators, which are expected to perform a peristaltic pumping motion upon actuation triggered by light exposure or localized heating.