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Issue 2, 2009
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Nematic colloids entangled by topological defects

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Assembly of colloidal particles in nematic liquid crystals is governed by the symmetry of building blocks and type of defects in the liquid crystalline orientation. Particles in a nematic act as nucleation sites for topological defect structures that are homotopic to point defects. The tendency for a minimal deformation free energy and topological constraints limit possible defect configurations to extended and localized defect loops. Here we report on a recently discovered colloidal binding, where particles are entangled by disclination loops. Nematic braids formed by such disclinations stabilize multi-particle objects and entrap particles in a complex manner. Observed binding potentials are highly anisotropic showing string-like behavior and can be of an order of magnitude stronger compared to non-entangled colloids. Controlling the assembly based on entangled disclination lines one can build multi-particle structures with potentially useful features (shapes, periodic structure, chirality, etc.) for photonic and plasmonic applications.

Graphical abstract: Nematic colloids entangled by topological defects

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Article information

27 Jun 2008
10 Sep 2008
First published
05 Nov 2008

Soft Matter, 2009,5, 269-274
Article type

Nematic colloids entangled by topological defects

M. Ravnik and Slobodan Žumer, Soft Matter, 2009, 5, 269
DOI: 10.1039/B810933H

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