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Ongoing Projects

Cholesteric Liquid Crystals (LC) are well known and currently under investigation for their
versatility in large scale of applications. One of the most common texture is the fingerprint
one. Moreover, this isn’t the only powerful metastable state of it. Solitonic defects as Toron
for example can be generated in specific conditions which enhance the possible applications
In nature, the generation, transmission, and processing of electrical signals are
forms to control the action of plants and animals, such as the reflex arc in
human body, the sequential actuation of mimosa, and so on. The feedback
consisting of the sensing, processing, and actuating unit, endows the
and plants with autonomous behaviors.
Design paradigms that enable the fast and rapid responses can unlock the true potential of soft-materials as they suffer from slow responses and small forces. Nature is a great source of inspiration where its elegant machineries can put instabilities into work to respond in a rapid manner. Venusflytrap, for example, can close its leaves to catch a prey in less then 100 milliseconds by employing snap-through instability
Liquid Secretion is ubiquitous in all forms of life as it can drastically change properties
surfaces. For example, fishes secrete a protective layer of mucus not only to
the pathogenic microbes, but also to reduce friction between their skin and water to
up swimming. Synthetic surfaces releasing lubricants are promising in the application
selfcleaning surfaces, adhesion control, antiicing, reactant release and drug release
Surface topographies play a vital role in nature. For instance, goosebumps on mammals’
skin can conserve heat. Cuttlefishes generate textures on their skin for camouflage. The
ingenuity of these creatures lies in regulating the functionality of their surface by switching
their topographies to interact with the surrounding environment. Here, we would like to
develop smart coatings with dynamic surface topographies which are anticipated to benefit
many new functions in the fields of haptics and robotics.
Soft robots are interesting since they can perform mechanical tasks without the need for
joints. Instead, actuation is enabled by material properties. One class of materials for soft
robots are liquid crystal elastomers, which can reversibly deform when their molecular
alignment (as induced during fabrication) is disturbed. This disturbance is usually achieved
by locally applying heat or light.
Self-regulation is crucial within automated systems ranging from industrial manufacturing arms
to vacuum-cleaner robots. Self-regulation can be potentially brought into the world of mm-scale
soft robotics through the application of responsive liquid crystal materials, overcoming size and
compliance limitations of conventional controllers, actuators and sensors. This development
would be of great interest in microfluidic, surface transport and haptic applications.