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See detailCholesteric Liquid Crystal Shells as Enabling Material for Information-Rich Design and Architecture.
Schwartz, Mathew; Lenzini, Gabriele UL; Geng, Yong UL et al

in Advanced Materials (2018)

The responsive and dynamic character of liquid crystals (LCs), arising from their ability to self-organize into long-range ordered structures while maintaining fluidity, has given them a role as key ... [more ▼]

The responsive and dynamic character of liquid crystals (LCs), arising from their ability to self-organize into long-range ordered structures while maintaining fluidity, has given them a role as key enabling materials in the information technology that surrounds us today. Ongoing research hints at future LC-based technologies of entirely different types, for instance by taking advantage of the peculiar behavior of cholesteric liquid crystals (CLCs) subject to curvature. Spherical shells of CLC reflect light omnidirectionally with specific polarization and wavelength, tunable from the UV to the infrared (IR) range, with complex patterns arising when many of them are brought together. Here, these properties are analyzed and explained, and future application opportunities from an inter- disciplinary standpoint are discussed. By incorporating arrangements of CLC shells in smart facades or vehicle coatings, or in objects of high value subject to counterfeiting, game-changing future uses might arise in fields spanning infor- mation security, design, and architecture. The focus here is on the challenges of a digitized and information-rich future society where humans increasingly rely on technology and share their space with autonomous vehicles, drones, and robots. [less ▲]

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See detailThrough the Spherical Looking-Glass: Asymmetry Enables Multicolored Internal Reflection in Cholesteric Liquid Crystal Shells
Geng, Yong UL; Jang, Ju-Hyun; Noh, Kyung-Gyu et al

in Advanced Optical Materials (2017), 6(1), 1700923

Spheres of cholesteric liquid crystal generate dynamic patterns due to selec- tive reflection from a helical structure subject to continuously curved bounda- ries. So far the patterns are investigated ... [more ▼]

Spheres of cholesteric liquid crystal generate dynamic patterns due to selec- tive reflection from a helical structure subject to continuously curved bounda- ries. So far the patterns are investigated exclusively as function of reflections at the sphere exterior. Here it is shown that the cholesteric shells in a microfluidics produced double emulsion enable also a sequence of internal reflections if the shells have sufficiently thin top and thick bottom. While such asymmetry is promoted by buoyancy when the internal droplet has lower density than the liquid crystal, the elasticity of the cholesteric helix prefers a symmetric shell geometry, acting against gravity. This subtle balance can hide the internal reflections for long time. Eventually, however, the asymmetry is established, revealing a new class of photonic patterns characterized by colored sharp concentric rings. With the complete knowledge of the diverse light-reflecting behavior of cholesteric liquid crystal shells, and utilizing the tunability of the structure period by, e.g., temperature, electric field, or expo- sure to various chemical species as well as polymer stabilization for making the shells long-term stable, they may be developed into remarkable new optical elements for photonics, sensing, or security pattern generation. [less ▲]

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See detailLiquid crystals in micron-scale droplets, shells and fibers
Urbanski, Martin UL; Reyes, Catherine UL; Noh, Junghyun UL et al

in Journal of Physics : Condensed Matter (2017), 29

The extraordinary responsiveness and large diversity of self-assembled structures of liquid crystals are well documented and they have been extensively used in devices like displays. For long, this ... [more ▼]

The extraordinary responsiveness and large diversity of self-assembled structures of liquid crystals are well documented and they have been extensively used in devices like displays. For long, this application route strongly influenced academic research, which frequently focused on the performance of liquid crystals in display-like geometries, typically between flat, rigid substrates of glass or similar solids. Today a new trend is clearly visible, where liquid crystals confined within curved, often soft and flexible, interfaces are in focus. Innovation in microfluidic technology has opened for high-throughput production of liquid crystal droplets or shells with exquisite monodispersity, and modern characterization methods allow detailed analysis of complex director arrangements. The introduction of electrospinning in liquid crystal research has enabled encapsulation in optically transparent polymeric cylinders with very small radius, allowing studies of confinement effects that were not easily accessible before. It also opened the prospect of functionalizing textile fibers with liquid crystals in the core, triggering activities that target wearable devices with true textile form factor for seamless integration in clothing. Together, these developments have brought issues center stage that might previously have been considered esoteric, like the interaction of topological defects on spherical surfaces, saddle-splay curvature-induced spontaneous chiral symmetry breaking, or the non-trivial shape changes of curved liquid crystal elastomers with non-uniform director fields that undergo a phase transition to an isotropic state. The new research thrusts are motivated equally by the intriguing soft matter physics showcased by liquid crystals in these unconventional geometries, and by the many novel application opportunities that arise when we can reproducibly manufacture these systems on a commercial scale. This review attempts to summarize the current understanding of liquid crystals in spherical and cylindrical geometry, the state of the art of producing such samples, as well as the perspectives for innovative applications that have been put forward. [less ▲]

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See detailHigh-fidelity spherical cholesteric liquid crystal Bragg reflectors generating unclonable patterns for secure authentication
Geng, Yong UL; Noh, Junghyun UL; Drevensek-Olenik, Irena et al

in Scientific Reports (2016), 6(26840), 1-8

Monodisperse cholesteric liquid crystal microspheres exhibit spherically symmetric Bragg reflection, generating, via photonic cross communication, dynamically tuneable multi-coloured patterns. These ... [more ▼]

Monodisperse cholesteric liquid crystal microspheres exhibit spherically symmetric Bragg reflection, generating, via photonic cross communication, dynamically tuneable multi-coloured patterns. These patterns, uniquely defined by the particular sphere arrangement, could render cholesteric microspheres very useful in countless security applications, as tags to identify and authenticate their carriers, mainly physical objects or persons. However, the optical quality of the cholesteric droplets studied so far is unsatisfactory, especially after polymerisation, a step required for obtaining durable samples that can be used for object identification. We show that a transition from droplets to shells solves all key problems, giving rise to sharp patterns and excellent optical quality even after polymerisation, the polymerised shells sustaining considerable mechanical deformation. Moreover, we demonstrate that, counter to prior expectation, cross communication takes place even between non-identical shells. This opens additional communication channels that add significantly to the complexity and unique character of the generated patterns. [less ▲]

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See detailTransmission polarized optical microscopy of short-pitch cholesteric liquid crystal shells
Geng, Yong UL; Noh, Junghyun UL; Lagerwall, Jan UL

in Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering (2016, March 07), 9769

We recently demonstrated that colloidal crystal arrangements of monodisperse droplets or shells of planar-aligned cholesteric liquid crystal exhibit intricate patterns of circularly polarized reflection ... [more ▼]

We recently demonstrated that colloidal crystal arrangements of monodisperse droplets or shells of planar-aligned cholesteric liquid crystal exhibit intricate patterns of circularly polarized reflection spots of different colors. The spots appear as a result of photonic cross communication between droplets, hence the patterns reflect the macroscopic arrangement of droplets or shells. Apart from being an interesting optical phenomenon, it offers attractive application opportunities in photonics and beyond, due to the unique characteristics of the patterns. It turns out that the optical quality of shells is much enhanced compared to that of droplets, hence we focus our attention primarily on shells, of varying thickness. Here we analyze and explain the intriguing textures arising when studying planar-aligned short-pitch cholesteric shells in transmission polarizing optical microscopy. In this case, the texture reflects the properties of each individual shell, without any sign of cross communication, yet also this pattern holds some fascinating mysteries. These can only be elucidated by considering all the peculiar optical properties of cholesterics together, as well as the unusual situation given by the spherical shell geometry. [less ▲]

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