Gamma-convergence results for nematic elastomer bilayers: relaxation and actuation

Pierluigi Cesana, Andrés A.León Baldelli

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We compute effective energies of thin bilayer structures composed of soft nematic elastic liquid crystals in various geometrical regimes and functional configurations. Our focus is on elastic foundations composed of an isotropic layer attached to a nematic substrate where order-strain interaction results in complex opto-mechanical instabilities activated via coupling through the common interface. Allowing out-of-plane displacements, we compute Gamma-limits for vanishing thickness which exhibit spontaneous stress relaxation and shape-morphing behaviour. This extends the plane strain modelling of Cesana and Leon Baldelli [Math. Models Methods Appl. Sci. (2018) 2863-2904], and shows the asymptotic emergence of fully coupled active macroscopic nematic foundations. Subsequently, we focus on actuation and compute asymptotic configurations of an active plate on nematic foundation interacting with an applied electric field. From the analytical standpoint, the presence of an electric field and its associated electrostatic work turns the total energy non-convex and non-coercive. We show that equilibrium solutions are min-max points of the system, that min-maximising sequences pass to the limit and, that the limit system can exert mechanical work under applied electric fields.

Original languageEnglish
Article number36
JournalESAIM - Control, Optimisation and Calculus of Variations
Publication statusPublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Control and Optimization
  • Computational Mathematics


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