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Soft Sci 2023;3:[Accepted].10.20517/ss.2022.28© The Author(s) 2023
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Open AccessResearch Article

Shape memory behaviors of 3D printed liquid crystal elastomers

Correspondence Address: Prof. Z. Wang, Key Laboratory of Aerospace Advanced Materials and Performance Ministry of Education, School of Materials Science and Engineering, Beihang University, Beijing, 100191, China.; R. Xiao, State Key Laboratory of Fluid Power & Mechatronic System, Key Laboratory of Soft Machines and Smart Devices of Zhejiang Province, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310027, China. E-mail:


© The Author(s) 2023. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, for any purpose, even commercially, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.


As soft active materials, shape-memory polymers (SMPs) and liquid crystal elastomers (LCEs) have attracted considerable research interest due to their potential applications in various areas. SMPs refer to polymeric materials that can return to their permanent shape in response to external stimuli, such as heat, light, and solvent. In this sense, LCEs can exhibit intrinsic shape-memory behaviors since LCEs can switch between two shapes with temperature change due to the order-disorder transition of liquid crystals. In this work, we fabricate both the polydomain and monodomain nematic LCEs through direct ink writing 3D printing. With increasing the temperature of the substrates, the printed LCEs change from the monodomain state to the polydomain state. For polydomain LCEs, a reversible shape change can occur upon constant loading, while the monodomain can switch the shape with temperature in the stress-free state. This two-way shape-memory behavior is caused by the nematic-isotropic phase transition. We further show that the printed LCEs exhibit a good one-way shape-memory effect due to glass transition. The shape recovery region increases with the programming temperature, which is a typical temperature memory effect. Finally, it is demonstrated that complex shape-memory performance can be designed by combining one-way and two-way shape-memory effects. Specifically, for the monodomain LCEs, with increasing temperature, the programmed shape first recovers, and a second shape change can further occur due to the nematic-isotropic transition.

Cite This Article

Dai L, Wang L, Chen B, Xu Z, Wang Z, Xiao R. Shape memory behaviors of 3D printed liquid crystal elastomers. Soft Sci 2023;3:[Accept].

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