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Department of Physics

The Cavendish Laboratory

Liquid Crystal ElastomerThe Soft Condensed Matter group focuses on elastic, hydrodynamical and optical aspects and material properties on mesoscopic scales.

Warner and Terentjev have created the theoretical research field of liquid crystal elastomers, which has yielded many exotic phenomena that are now confirmed experimentally, and have written a major research monograph in this field.

Liquid crystal elastomers exhibit many entirely new effects that are not simply enhancements of native liquid crystals or polymers. Their thermal phase transformations giving rise to spontaneous shape changes of many hundreds of per cents, transitions and instabilities induced by applied mechanical stress or strain, and some unusual dynamical effects. Strangest of all, elastomers under some conditions behaving entirely softly, deforming as true liquids do without the application of stress. All these new forms of elasticity have their genesis in the ambiguities between liquid and solid that are present in liquid crystals and polymers, but are only brought to light in a crosslinked rubbery network.