This paper reports an opto-actuable device fabricated using micro-machined silicon moulds. The actuating component of the device is made from a composite material containing carbon nanotubes (CNTs) embedded in a liquid crystal elastomer (LCE) matrix. We demonstrate the fabrication of a patterned LCE-CNT film by a combination of mechanical stretching and thermal cross-linking. The resulting poly-domain LCE-CNT film contains blister-shaped mono-domain regions, which reversibly change their shape under light irradiation and hence can be used as dynamic Braille dots. We demonstrate that blisters with diameters of 1.0 and 1.5mm, and wall thickness 300m, will mechanically contract under irradiation by a laser diode with optical power up to 60 mW. The magnitude of this contraction was up to 40m, which is more than 10% of their height in the rest state. The stabilization time of the material is less than 6s for both actuation and recovery. We also carried out preliminary tests on the repeatability of this photo-actuation process, observing no material or performance degradation. This manufacturing approach establishes a starting point for the design and fabrication of wide-area tactile actuators, which are promising candidates for the development of new Braille reading applications for the visually impaired. © 2012 IOP Publishing Ltd.
|Journal||Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jul 2012|