Mechanical properties of monodomain nematic side-chain liquid-crystalline elastomers with homeotropic and in-plane orientation of the director
UPR 22, CNRS/UDS, Institut Charles Sadron, 23 rue du Loess, 67034, Strasbourg, France
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Revised: 2 April 2011
Accepted: 22 June 2011
Published online: 15 July 2011
We present the first study of the shear mechanical properties of monodomain nematic side-chain liquid-crystal elastomers (SCLCEs) prepared by cross-linking with UV irradiation a nematic side-chain liquid-crystal polymer oriented with an electric or a magnetic field. Their elastic behavior was studied in the dry, swollen and stretched states, in order to check the various theoretical descriptions of these systems. The shear measurements taken on the dry samples show that the shear anisotropy is much smaller than that of the usual twice cross-linked samples oriented by a mechanical stretching of the network formed after the first cross-linking step, demonstrating that the elasticity of the networks strongly depends on the preparation procedure used. The shear experiments performed on the swollen state of these two different types of elastomers reveal that the elasticity of the network is Gaussian for the elastomers oriented with the electric or the magnetic field, and non-Gaussian for the elastomers oriented with the usual stretching procedure. The analysis of the stress-strain curves of both types of elastomers with the neoclassical model based on Gaussian rubber elasticity confirms the Gaussian and non-Gaussian nature of their elasticity. The shear experiments performed as a function of the elongation of the homeotropically oriented elastomer when the shear is applied in a direction parallel to the elongation, do not show the decrease of the associated shear modulus, which is theoretically expected when the strain approaches the threshold value marking the beginning of the elastic plateau. However, the observation of this effect could be prevented by possible small misalignments of the director, as suggested by a calculation presented in one of the theories describing this effect.
© EDP Sciences, SIF, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 2011