Molecular simulations elucidate artificial muscle performance
This issue has been adressed by Gregor Skačej, a member of our Physics Department, and Claudio Zannoni from the University of Bologna (Italy), in a recent paper entitled Molecular simulations elucidate electric field actuation in swollen liquid crystal elastomers that has appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).
The paper presents large-scale computer simulations of the electromechanical effect in liquid-crystalline elastomers. These soft functional materials are capable of responding to external stimuli, e.g., an application of electric field, via significant elastic deformations (see figure). As such, they are promising for the design of actuators/artificial muscles. All simulations have been performed using local computing facilities at the Physics Department.