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See detailPressure Sensing with Nematic Liquid Crystal and Carbon Nanotube Networks
Murali, Meenu UL

Doctoral thesis (2020)

The study of colloidal dispersions of nanoparticles in liquid crystals (LCs) is well known. In most of the works, the particles are mixed into the LC to form suspensions with well-dispersed particles ... [more ▼]

The study of colloidal dispersions of nanoparticles in liquid crystals (LCs) is well known. In most of the works, the particles are mixed into the LC to form suspensions with well-dispersed particles. However, when nanoparticles are physically connected to form networks, the overall macroscopic properties of the ensemble are directly linked to the specific properties of the nanoparticles. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are excellent electrical conductors possessing extremely high aspect ratio, which results in a very low concentration threshold needed to obtain percolation. Therefore, they form conductive networks with extremely small amounts of CNTs. Another advantage of carbon nanotubes is their capability to transport large current densities without damage by electromigration, maintaining a stable resistance, and having scattering-less paths across several microns. Moreover, the electromechanical properties of CNTs make them an ideal candidate in pressure sensing technology. The doctoral thesis presented here describes two different approaches to integrate and utilise CNTs in an LC matrix. In the first case, we show that a variety of nanoparticles that are dispersed in LC can be attracted and assembled onto a LC defect line generated in a predetermined location, thereby creating a vertical interconnect of nanoparticles. The second consists of CNT sheets mechanically drawn from a CNT forest and an LC cell is then built on top, and the second consists of a template-based assembly of dispersed CNTs onto defect lines in LCs. In this case, we study the electrical and optical properties of CNT sheets in the presence and absence of liquid crystals based on their DC electrical characterization with distributed electrical contacts. Finally, we discuss how these two approaches can be used to successfully fabricate pressure-sensing devices. The pressure response in both these sensors is achieved based on the change in resistance of the CNTs, induced by the structural variations under the external applied pressure. Both the pressure sensors developed here are easy to fabricate, cost-effective, and recoverable owing to the elasticity and softness of the LC. [less ▲]

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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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