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Hybrid molecular-colloidal liquid crystals

Order and fluidity often coexist, with examples ranging from biological membranes to liquid crystals, but the symmetry of these soft-matter systems is typically higher than that of the constituent building blocks. We dispersed micrometer-long inorganic colloidal rods in a nematic liquid crystalline fluid of molecular rods. Both types of uniaxial building blocks, while freely diffusing, interact to form an orthorhombic nematic fluid, in which like-sized rods are roughly parallel to each other and the molecular ordering direction is orthogonal to that of colloidal rods. A coarse-grained model explains the experimental temperature-concentration phase diagram with one biaxial and two uniaxial nematic phases, as well as the orientational distributions of rods. Displaying properties of biaxial optical crystals, these hybrid molecular-colloidal fluids can be switched by electric and magnetic fields.

Authors:   Haridas Mundoor; Sungoh Park; Bohdan Senyuk; Henricus H. Wensink; Ivan I. Smalyukh
Journal:   Science
Volume:   360
edition:   6390
Year:   2018
Pages:   768
DOI:   10.1126/science.aap9359
Publication date:   18-May-2018
Facts, background information, dossiers
  • magnetic fields
  • Crystals
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