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Issue 40, 2017
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Repulsion–attraction switching of nematic colloids formed by liquid crystal dispersions of polygonal prisms

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Abstract

Self-assembly of colloidal particles due to elastic interactions in nematic liquid crystals promises tunable composite materials and can be guided by exploiting surface functionalization, geometric shape and topology, though these means of controlling self-assembly remain limited. Here, we realize low-symmetry achiral and chiral elastic colloids in the nematic liquid crystals using colloidal polygonal concave and convex prisms. We show that the controlled pinning of disclinations at the prism edges alters the symmetry of director distortions around the prisms and their orientation with respect to the far-field director. The controlled localization of the disclinations at the prism's edges significantly influences the anisotropy of the diffusion properties of prisms dispersed in liquid crystals and allows one to modify their self-assembly. We show that elastic interactions between polygonal prisms can be switched between repulsive and attractive just by controlled re-pinning the disclinations at different edges using laser tweezers. Our findings demonstrate that elastic interactions between colloidal particles dispersed in nematic liquid crystals are sensitive to the topologically equivalent but geometrically rich controlled configurations of the particle-induced defects.

Graphical abstract: Repulsion–attraction switching of nematic colloids formed by liquid crystal dispersions of polygonal prisms

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Publication details

The article was received on 15 Jun 2017, accepted on 07 Sep 2017 and first published on 07 Sep 2017


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7SM01186E
Citation: Soft Matter, 2017,13, 7398-7405
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    Repulsion–attraction switching of nematic colloids formed by liquid crystal dispersions of polygonal prisms

    B. Senyuk, Q. Liu, P. D. Nystrom and I. I. Smalyukh, Soft Matter, 2017, 13, 7398
    DOI: 10.1039/C7SM01186E

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