Liquid Crystal Elastomers: Introduction
- Liquid crystal elastomers (LCE) are made from liquid crystals and elastomers. Primary microscopic properties of liquid crystals are orientation, positional order, and the smectic order to the layer normal.
- Liquid crystal elastomers are rubbery networks composed of long, cross-linked polymer chains that are also liquid crystalline (LC) – nematic, cholesteric, or smectic
- Liquid crystal elastomers’ are unique, as the natural shape of such chains follow the LC order. They typically elongate in the presence of nematic (orientational) order, and reversibly contract when the order is lost (typically by heating, but also by illumination or absorption of solvent). The molecular shape change is mirrored in the mechanical shape changes of the solids that the chains constitute. The changes can be very large: up to 500%.
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Expansion in Biomedical Industry to Drive Global Liquid Crystal Elastomers Market
- Liquid crystal elastomers are composed of liquid crystals and elastomers. Liquid crystal elastomers are made from silicon or carbon elastomeric net, which dictate macroscopic properties such as deformation and shape.
- Rise in biomedical applications such as orthopedic applications, which include knee replacement with LCE, MTP (metatarsophalangeal) joint with LCE, and also total disc replacement with LCE, in countries with large-scale elderly population, is estimated to offer significant opportunities to the liquid crystal elastomers market in the next few years
Applications of Liquid Crystal Elastomers
- Based on application, the global liquid crystal elastomers market can be segmented into aerospace & automotive, sports & military, and biomedical. Liquid crystal elastomers are employed in numerous end-use applications such as irises, biomimetic actuators, valves, and shape-changing lenses.
- Liquid crystal elastomers are ideal for artificial muscles. Muscles are anisotropic while they stretch in just one direction. This applies to liquid crystal elastomers. According to researchers, liquid crystal elastomers have exactly the same value of properties as natural muscles.
- Thermomechanical response of liquid crystal elastomers can be used for sensors and temperature controlled actuators. In this case, a computer signal can convert through changes in temperature into physical stretching of liquid crystal elastomers.
- Nematic photo-elastomers make the light-driven actuators possible. Bifocal contact and intra-ocular lenses can be made due to the optical clarity of liquid crystal elastomers in the monodomain state.
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North America to Hold Major Share of Global Liquid Crystal Elastomers Market
- In terms of region, the global liquid crystal elastomers market can be divided into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa
- In terms of value, Asia Pacific dominated the global liquid crystal elastomers market in 2019
- Europe is anticipated to create lucrative opportunities for the liquid crystal elastomers market in the near future due to the usage of these liquid crystal elastomers in various end-use industries such automotive and aerospace in the region
- The liquid crystal elastomers market in Latin America and Middle East & Africa is projected to expand at a sluggish pace during the forecast period
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Key Players Operating in Global Market
- The global liquid crystal elastomers market is consolidated. Large number of players are focused on R&D to offer a complete portfolio of products. They focus on different business strategies to strengthen their position. Impressio, Inc. is the only dominant player in the market. Other players are still in the phase of developing such materials.
Global Liquid Crystal Elastomers Market: Research Scope
Global Liquid Crystal Elastomers Market, by Application
- Aerospace & Automotive
- Sports & Military