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See detailDifference in the interaction of nano-diameter rod and tubular particles with a disclination line in a nematic liquid crystal
Murali, Meenu UL; Agha, Hakam UL; Mrzel, Aleš et al

in RSC Advances (2020), 10(36), 21473-21480

In the presence of a disclination line, inclusions within an aligned nematic liquid crystal (LC) are first attracted and ultimately trapped in it. The kind of orientational distortion created by the ... [more ▼]

In the presence of a disclination line, inclusions within an aligned nematic liquid crystal (LC) are first attracted and ultimately trapped in it. The kind of orientational distortion created by the inclusions is fundamental in determining the trapping. In the present work, we observe differences in the trapping behaviour, onto a ½ defect line in a nematic LC, of two types of particles both elongated but different in their actual geometry. Even if both types have cylindrical shape, aggregates of Mo6S2I8 nanowires (rod-like shape) and multiwall carbon nanotubes (tubular shape, i.e. hollow) trap differently although still due to deformations induced in the LC director field. Attractive forces are stronger on elongated bundles of nanowires than on similarly sized bundles of multi-wall carbon nanotubes. The reason is the difference in the attraction forces originating from different types of distortions of the LCs. The hollow and the full cylinders are not homotopically equivalent and this inequivalence holds also for the liquid crystal around them. The nanowires induce defects in the LC close-by their surfaces as shown for microrods, topologically equivalent to spheres. In contrast, multi-wall carbon nanotubes, being hollow, do not form defects close to their ends. However, the tubes are strongly bent and the strong planar anchoring of LC at the surface induces deformation in the LC enabling attraction forces with the defect line. HiPco single wall carbon nanotubes could not be trapped because their bundles looked much straighter and smaller than the ones of MWCNTs and thus neither defects nor standard strong deformations are expected. In conclusion, even if the shape of both types of particles is cylindrical, the topological difference between rods and tubes has profound consequences on the physical behaviour and on the presence and type of defect-mediated nematic attraction forces. [less ▲]

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See detailHigh-contrast imaging of 180 degrees ferroelectric domains by optical microscopy using ferroelectric liquid crystals
Nataf, Guillaume F.; Guennou, Mael UL; Scalia, Giusy UL et al

in APPLIED PHYSICS LETTERS (2020), 116(21),

Ferroelectric liquid crystals (FLCs) couple the direction of their spontaneous electric polarization to the direction of tilt of their optic axis. Consequently, reversal of the electric polarization by an ... [more ▼]

Ferroelectric liquid crystals (FLCs) couple the direction of their spontaneous electric polarization to the direction of tilt of their optic axis. Consequently, reversal of the electric polarization by an electric field gives rise to an immediate and lasting optical response when an appropriately aligned FLC is observed between crossed polarizers, with one field direction yielding a dark image and the opposite direction yielding a bright image. Here, this peculiar electro-optic response is used to image, with high optical contrast, 180 degrees ferroelectric domains in a crystalline substrate of magnesium-doped lithium niobate. The lithium niobate substrate contains a few domains with upward electric polarization surrounded by regions with downward electric polarization. In contrast to a reference non-chiral liquid crystal that is unable to show ferroelectric behavior due to its high symmetry, the FLC, which is used as a thin film confined between the lithium niobate substrate and an inert aligning substrate, reveals ferroelectric domains as well as their boundaries, with strong black and white contrast. The results show that FLCs can be used for non-destructive readout of domains in underlying ferroelectrics, with potential applications in, e.g., photonic devices and non-volatile ferroelectric memories. [less ▲]

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