Liquid Crystal Networks: from flat TVs to a future in robotics
Prof. dr. Dirk J. Broer
Department Functional Organic Materials and Devices
Eindhoven University of Technology
Since their development in the 80’s of last century, reactive mesogens (RM’s) form a versatile class of soft materials. The frozen-in molecular order of the polymers formed upon polymerization led to a wealth of new applications. Initially developed for use as low shrinkage, low thermal stress coatings, RM’s demonstrated their function especially in optics especially for displays.
More recently it was found that triggered by heat, light or electricity the polymers change shape, surface structure or porosity. At Eindhoven University, we developed self-sustaining oscillators, cilia based micro-transport devices and haptic surfaces. A new development relates to coatings that switch their surfaces from flat to corrugated with a preset topography, enabling control over friction, grip, soil rejection and particle manipulation.
The lecture will discuss the history and newest developments in responsive liquid crystal polymers, giving a preliminary view on the future of RM’s with advanced applications in the field of soft robotics.
Dirk J. Broer is polymer chemist specialized in polymer structuring and self-organizing polymer networks. In 1973, he joined Philips Research (Eindhoven, Netherlands) where he worked on optical data storage, telecommunication and display optics. He started his work on liquid crystal materials in 1985 developing the process of in-situ photopolymerization of liquid crystal monomers which led in 1990 to his PhD degree at Groningen University after he joined DuPont, USA. Back in 1991 at Philips Research he developed optical films for flat panel TVs. From 2003 to 2010 he was ranked vice president Philips Research. In 2010, he was appointed fulltime professor in Eindhoven to chair the Department Functional Organic Materials and Devices with research emphasis on clean technologies as energy harvesting, water treatment and healthcare. Prof. Broer is member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and received, among others, the SID Jan Rajchman Prize in 2014 for his achievements in display technology. In total, he
has around 275 publications in peer reviewed journals and more than 120 US patents.