Polarization dependence of optically-driven elastomer mechanics.

Daniel Corbett ,Mark Warner

University of Cambridge

We model how polarized and unpolarized light can cause mechanical response in nematic and related photo-elastomers. The reduction of order by heating and the consequential large strains that are known from nematic elastomers can alternatively be caused by light-induced bending of rodlike dye molecules which then equally reduce the order of their nematic hosts. While there is no mechanical response to heating of polydomain elastomers, mechanical response to light is possible by the selective absorption of light according to how domains are aligned with respect to the polarization direction or with respect to the propagation direction in the case of unpolarized light. We find large contractions or elongations, depending on the nature of polarization. The responses are non-monotonic with light intensity.

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