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Issue 6, 2015
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Shape-controlled orientation and assembly of colloids with sharp edges in nematic liquid crystals

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Abstract

The assembly of colloids in nematic liquid crystals via topological defects has been extensively studied for spherical particles, and investigations of other colloid shapes have revealed a wide array of new assembly behaviors. We show, using Landau-de Gennes numerical modeling, that nematic defect configurations and colloidal assembly can be strongly influenced by fine details of colloid shape, in particular the presence of sharp edges. For cylinder, microbullet, and cube colloid geometries, we obtain the particles' equilibrium alignment directions and effective pair interaction potentials as a function of simple shape parameters. We find that defects pin at sharp edges, and that the colloid consequently orients at an oblique angle relative to the far-field nematic director that depends on the colloid's shape. This shape-dependent alignment, which we confirm in experimental measurements, raises the possibility of selecting self-assembly outcomes for colloids in liquid crystals by tuning particle geometry.

Graphical abstract: Shape-controlled orientation and assembly of colloids with sharp edges in nematic liquid crystals

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Article information


Submitted
27 Aug 2014
Accepted
08 Dec 2014
First published
08 Dec 2014

Soft Matter, 2015,11, 1078-1086
Article type
Paper
Author version available

Shape-controlled orientation and assembly of colloids with sharp edges in nematic liquid crystals

D. A. Beller, M. A. Gharbi and I. B. Liu, Soft Matter, 2015, 11, 1078
DOI: 10.1039/C4SM01910E

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